RECOMMENDATIONS TO SUPPORT LGBTQ YOUTH
Expand services and support for unsheltered and homeless youth
Collect and publish aggregate data on LGBTQ youth in the Texas foster care and juvenile justice systems
To provide the most effective, data-informed services and support to the LGBTQ youth population, Texas should begin collecting aggregate data on LGBTQ youth in the foster care system and, separately, the juvenile justice system, and take all steps to keep the data as current as possible and make it publicly available.
Promote acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ youth in Texas’ foster care system
Many of the obstacles LGBTQ youth encounter in the foster care system can be attributed to rejection from foster parents whose religious convictions are at odds with providing accepting and affirming care to the youth. Stakeholders should intentionally recruit foster families who are willing to provide LGBTQ youth with the care they need and provide training to help ensure foster families are culturally competent in trauma-informed and inclusive care.
Fund wraparound mental health care and substance use services for youth
Seventy-five percent of mental health conditions develop and appear before the age of 24, which often includes co-occurring substance use; however, less than $1 out of every $1,000 of general revenue goes agencies to address substance use disorders. Legislators should allocate additional funding to school-based and community-based mental health and substance use programs for youth.
Divert youth with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders from the justice system
Texas must stop using the justice system as a one-size-fits-all response to public health issues. Legislators should instruct law enforcement officers to divert youth with mental health conditions or substance use disorders into community-based diversion services.
Train law enforcement officers how to handle youth experiencing a mental health crisis
The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) for Youth program trains law enforcement officers in best practices for handling youth with mental health conditions. Texas should require all law enforcement agencies coming in contact with youth to receive CIT program training and to divert youth with mental health needs intomore appropriate community-based services.