Working to Improve Washington’s Child Welfare/Juvenile Justice Systems

Last year Pride Foundation made a grant to Center for Children & Youth Justice (CCYJ) to conduct a policy research project called the eQuality Project.

This project focuses on collecting data to document the unique needs and challenges facing LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice and foster care systems.

Our hope is that this data will inspire systemic change in policies and practices that affect LGBTQ youth in these systems in Washington State. Currently, this data is not available in Washington, nor in any other state for that matter.

Sarah Ganzhorn, Research Associate/Projects Assistant, and Michael Curtis, eQuality Project Director, met with myself and Leadership Action Team member Carver the other week to discuss setting up a focus group with LGBTQ young people between the ages of 18-25 who have experience with Washington’s child welfare and/or juvenile justice systems. Carver also works at Odyssey Youth Center in Spokane, doing outreach to LGBTQ homeless youth.

In late March a focus group was held at Odyssey Youth Center, but there was little turnout for 18-25 year olds with system experience. Sarah is interested in scheduling another focus group in Spokane with hopes of larger participant turnout for this much-needed and important project.

CCYJ’s eQuality Project is looking for six to twelve young LGBTQ people (ages 18-25) who would like to participate in a 90 minute focus group and who have experience within Washington State’s foster care, juvenile justice, and/or child welfare systems.

This project is critical, as the data will be used to inform people on where the breakdown in support is occurring for LGBTQ youth—whether it be during initial involvement in the system, treatment of LGBTQ youth, or a lack of LGBTQ-specific resources.

Most importantly, this focus group will offer a safe place for suggestions on how to improve the experiences of LGBTQ youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice system.

If you have questions about this research study, or if you or someone you know would be interested in participating in a focus group, contact Sarah Ganzhorn from the Center for Children & Youth Justice at 206-696-7503 ext. 23, or  contact me at 509-481-0402

Gunner Scott is Pride Foundation’s Director of Programs. Email Gunner. 


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