GREENSBORO, NC -- Alexander Youth Network, an organization serving children with emotional and behavioral challenges in counties across North Carolina, has launched a Therapeutic Foster Care pilot program for LGBTQ youth in Guilford County, with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s (Blue Cross NC) Healthy Blue Medicaid plan and the Guilford Green Foundation & LGBTQ Center. The program aims to recruit and train therapeutic foster parents to provide LGBTQ youth in foster care with housing stability and resources to better cope with trauma and manage their mental health challenges. Individuals in the county who become therapeutic foster parents will receive specialized training in trauma response.
“With this initiative, we begin the journey of fulfilling the needs of our most vulnerable youth in Guilford County, beginning first with the most crucial of those needs, housing stability,” said Melanie Comans, therapeutic foster care program manager at Alexander Youth Network. “LGBTQ youth need to feel supported and be able to thrive in a safe environment, which is not guaranteed for so many.”
More than 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and five percent as transgender, and these youth often end up homeless as they flee harmful home environments. The Healthy Blue Therapeutic Foster Care pilot program aims to provide therapeutic foster homes that are safe and gender-affirming and offer tailored support for this vulnerable population.
“Access to safe and stable housing is a key component of health and well-being,” said Angela Boykin, vice president of government operations at Blue Cross NC. “Youth in foster care, especially LGBTQ youth, need a therapeutic and supportive place to call home. Funding this resource for the Guilford County community is an important step to ensure foster families are well-trained to serve the needs of these youth and will lead to healthier outcomes.”
On average, the Alexander Therapeutic Foster Care program serves 300 children per year in North Carolina. These children are primarily 10-15 years old and typically stay with therapeutic foster parents, with whom they are matched based on individual needs, for six to nine months. After the program, 85 percent of youth served have reported a decrease in distress, with increased school engagement, better mental health, and a decrease in bullying.
Interested foster care parents can attend an informational session on Monday, May 23 at Guilford Green Foundation & LBGTQ Center at 6:00 pm or complete a form on Alexander’s website to be connected to the program: www.alexanderyouthnetwork.org/LGBTQ-TFC.
"The info session is an opportunity to connect caring adults with information about a program that will have a long-lasting positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth,” said Jennifer Ruppe, executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation & LGBTQ Center. “The impact of placing LGBTQ youth in safe and affirming foster homes cannot be understated.”