Australian lesbian and gay foster carers negotiating the child protection system: strengths and challenges

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    Whilst a growing number of Australian foster care agencies are actively recruiting lesbians and gay men as potential foster carers, few agencies have policies for working with this population. Drawing on interviews and focus groups conducted with lesbian and gay foster carers from across four Australian states, the thematic analysis of narratives presented in this paper provides clear directions for developing policy. Carers reported considerable skill in negotiating placements and an awareness of the relatively tenuous position that they held within foster care systems. Many spoke of an overarching narrative of 'justified suspicion' when it came to engaging with agency workers and that they were often dependent upon the goodwill of individual social workers. Yet despite these challenges, lesbian and gay carers spoke in general of the unique and important skills they bring to care provision. The findings suggest that policy changes are required so as to (1) challenge heteronormativity and develop policies that clearly outline the implications of homophobic behaviour, (2) encourage reflexivity about best practice amongst workers and (3) provide clear guidelines about the inclusion of lesbian and gay foster carers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number215
    Pages (from-to)215-226
    Number of pages12
    JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2011


    • Australian lesbian and gay foster carers
    • Marginalization
    • Policy
    • Support
    • Unique strengths


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