Note: For Foster Care Awareness Month in May, we are releasing a series of podcasts hosted by Appleseed intern Vic Klafter built on fantastic interviews with incredible Nebraskans who have been involved with the child welfare or juvenile justice system, with a focus on foster care and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and/or Transgender people.
In the middle of the series we’ll feature a guest blog post from our newest child welfare intern and then cap it off with a long-form episode compiling the three segments together with some extra discussion and analysis.
Look for important links in the accompanying blog posts with each episode to look further into the data. Leave comments to let us know what you think of the interviews. And share, share, share!
Episode 2 – Taryn Retzlaff and Ricci Benson
In 2016, 20,000 youth aged out of foster care nationwide without being adopted. Meanwhile, 2 million LGBTQ adults want to become adoptive parents but are prevented by discriminatory policies.
Texas, Michigan, North Dakota, and South Dakota have policies that allow agencies to refuse to place children with potential foster or adoptive parents who are LGBTQ based on religious beliefs. Kansas and Oklahoma just passed such laws in the last two weeks. Colorado’s legislature is currently considering a similar one.
In 2016, a legislative bill was considered in the Nebraska unicameral similar to those in the aforementioned states, but the bill did not advance on the floor. However, the Nebraska Supreme Court made progress for the LGBTQ community in 2017 when it upheld a district court’s decision that the statewide ban on gay and lesbian individuals and couples from fostering children was unconstitutional. This meant that LGBTQ individuals and couple would have equal rights be licensed foster parents.
In today’s podcast, we hear how this applied to one family, the Retzlaffs, in northeast Nebraska, as well as how the renewed implementation of the Strengthening Families Act allowed them to reverse some of the social delays their adopted children suffered in their early childhood.
We also hear from a Nebraska agency director on LGBTQ discrimination, caseworker turnover, her foster son’s experience with the legal system, and more.