Life can be difficult dealing with everyday ordeals. This rings particularly true for young people who deal with matters ranging from peer pressure to self-image along with other internal and external conflicts already in their lives. Struggling with self-identity and sexual orientation is no easy task in our modern society. While we have managed to make a great amount of progress in acceptance and understanding, there is no mistaking our continued shortcomings. The vulnerable youth population continues to deal with these concerns and it constantly puts them at greater risk for escalated issues. According to the Center for Disease Control, last year’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey Reported that almost 30% of LGBTQ youth have attempted suicide, more than four times the rate for straight students and 60% reported feeling “sad or hopeless.” However, with support from communities, loving families, and child welfare institutions such as Wolverine Human Services, these youth have a greater chance of survival and success. Tom, the Vice President of Community Based Programs & Chief Operating Officer of Michigan Counseling Centers played a crucial role in how Wolverine Human Services chose to maintain a supportive role for the LGBTQ community. In honor of PRIDE month, we would like to share his thoughts:
When did WHS make the decision to become active supporters of the LGBTQ community and what sparked this?
Wolverine Human Services was founded in the late ’80s on the premise that we’d service all children and all families no matter their sexual preference. As this became more of a prevalent issue in our society, we took the stance to make our position known in the community.
What is the meaning of Any Child, Any Parent, Any Time?
We wanted to help recruit care providers as well as send a message to all Michigan citizens that we want to serve any child and any parent at any time. We wanted to find a unique way to recruit individuals and make sure that our doors are always open as a safe haven to all.
How has this impacted the WHS community?
Wolverine Human Services has enjoyed the benefits of having the LGBTQ population as wonderful care providers/parents which in turn has created loving homes for our children. With that we have been able to educate the community on what it means to be inclusive in creating a caring environment within the foster care system.
Why is LGBTQ support essential to a healthy Foster Care/Adoption Community?
Support is essential in helping our kids who are seeking loving families. It has been noted that 10% or more of the population in welfare identifies as LGBTQ. We’re providing services to good families regardless of sexual orientation. Although we continue to face challenges, this support helps children feel comfortable. By seeing families who identify similar to themselves, they too feel more accepted and understood. In the end, we want everyone in our community to feel loved and supported. Wolverine Human Services offers a variety of programs that create awareness and teach sensitivity to these topics.