New rules aim to make foster care with family easier, provide protection for LGBTQ+ children

The Biden administration is moving to make it easier for caregivers to take in family members in the foster care system, requiring states to provide them with the same financial support that any other foster home would receive.

It also proposed a new regulation aimed at ensuring that LGBTQ+ children are protected in their foster homes from mistreatment due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

More than 391,000 children were in foster care in 2021, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Many were removed from their homes and placed in foster care due to neglect, physical abuse or parental drug abuse. The average age of a child in foster care was 8.

The report said about 35% were placed in the home of a relative.

HHS issued a final regulation Wednesday that lets states simplify the process for family members to become caregivers.

“We’re going to start to give family a chance to really be family for these kids, especially for grandparents who oftentimes carry so much of a load and never get recognized for what they do,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

HHS also laid out a proposed rule that, among other things, would require training for foster care providers on how to meet the needs of an LGBTQ+ child. States would be allowed to design those training programs.

That proposed rule will be open to public comment for 60 days before its finalized.

Another proposed rule would allow Native American tribes to be reimbursed for the legal costs of intervening in a state foster care court case over the parental rights of a child.