Safe Harbor Project Mission:
The Safe Harbor Project actively support DCF’s mission to ensure the safety, support and nurturance of all children and youth, affording the opportunity for them to thrive with family settings and grow into successful and independent adults by building the capacity of DCF staff and providers to effectively meet the unique needs of the sexual and gender minority youth in their care
Studies* provide compelling evidence that the stigma associated with development of a sexual minority identity puts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) youth are at significantly higher risk for truancy, homelessness, substance abuse, depression, sexual acting out and suicide. These risk factors often lead them into contact with child welfare and juvenile justice systems that are ill-equipped to respond to their needs in culturally competent ways.
The Safe Harbor Project is a collaboration between the State Department of Children and Families (DCF) and True Colors, Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services of Connecticut. The Safe Harbor project seeks to identify and resolve gaps in the provision of culturally competent care for LGBTQI+youth and families across the spectrum of Child Welfare.
Components of the Safe Harbors Project include:
- Comprehensive values clarification and skill building training in offices and facilities
- Case Specific Consultation regarding LGBTQI+youth and/or their care givers
- A State-wide task force focused on identifying and filling gaps in services for LGBTQI+youth, families and foster parents
Some of the Project Successes to date include:
- The implementation of Resource Liaisons available in each office and facility plus an on-line resource guide of services around the state
- The passage of comprehensive non-discrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression
- The development of protocols and a best practice guide for serving transgender and non-binary youth
- Mediation for youth in need of services, LGBTQI+ and ally staff and LGBT foster parents
Significant changes in staff awareness, agency climate, understanding, and skills (based on pre and post tests of attitude, values and knowledge).