ACYFS sees its LGBTQIA+& Cultural Competency program as an essential component of its overall therapeutic program. If children are unable to accept who they are, or are experiencing discrimination due to their identities, they are likely also unable to benefit fully from ACYFS’s holistic corrective approach. Thus, the LGBTQIA+ & Cultural Competency program is a backbone of the ACYFS model. ACYFS’s continuing education around this topic enables it to nimbly adapt the program where needed according to individual needs, or where new information becomes available.
ACYFS promotes safety for LGBTQIA+ clients and their families in the following ways:
- Expanding staff knowledge of sexual orientation and gender identity through on-going staff training
- Providing health education literature with diverse images and inclusive language
- Training staff to use vocabulary of inclusiveness, including appropriate pronouns and identity language/references
- Encouraging clients to express their preferred name and ensure that all staff use the client’s preferred name
- Ensure that staff are using the client’s preferred pronoun when speaking about or with the client
- Using gender neutral language whenever possible.
- Conveying respect in all interactions with clients.
ACYFS strives to serve and benefit children from all backgrounds, cultures, and walks and life. Thus, at all times during its more than 30-year history, ACYFS has made it part of its mission to foster in-depth cultural awareness and understanding of the impact of cultural differences within and among its clientele. Due to the circumstances surrounding their placement or trauma in their upbringing, many of the children placed with ACYFS arrive already feeling like outsiders—from their families, their social groups, or at their schools. This issue is only compounded where these children are also members of a traditionally marginalized culture. It is therefore ACYFS’s goal to foster an atmosphere that not only tolerates and accepts individuals from such minority cultures, but also embraces such cultural differences as providing a richer and more diverse environment for all of its youths.