— Lyn Stoesen, News Staff
The NASW Foundation and NASW, working in partnership with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, have launched a project to build the capacity, awareness and skills of social workers for responding to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth living in foster care, juvenile justice systems and homeless shelters nationwide.
The project is funded through the Out-of-Home Youth Fund of The Tides Foundation. Lambda Legal has partnered with NASW to establish a train-the-trainer initiative that will create a group of 40 "master trainers" who will commit to facilitating future training seminars, with the goal of ultimately reaching 1,600 practitioners.
"This exciting initiative builds on the important groundwork already done by Lambda Legal, Child Welfare League of America and NASW," said NASW Foundation Director Robert Arnold. "Social workers are a key group of professionals working with this population, and this project will add even more specialized training to increase their effectiveness and sensitivity in dealing with these concerns."
The program will be funded with a one-year $125,000 grant, which will cover costs related to the initial training and curriculum materials for 40 master trainers. Each master trainer will commit to training at least 40 social workers and other child welfare practitioners through two future seminars.
Arnold said the new project will be structured in a way similar to the association's HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project, which also uses a train-the-trainer model.
NASW Women and LGBT Policy Adviser Rita Webb will coordinate the project, and the association's National Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues will serve in an advisory capacity and help develop evaluation tools.
"This is a project that will create opportunities for our child welfare system to deal fairly with young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual orientation," said committee chair Jean Quam. "This provides a vehicle for NASW to meet its goal of identifying ways to eliminate homophobic social work practices and policies."
Lambda Legal has also partnered with the Council on Social Work Education to survey schools of social work to identify best practices in preparing social workers to serve LGBTQ youth respectfully; results will be used to promote these practices in all academic social work programs.