Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

McCaslin, Rosemary


The purpose of this study was to examine child welfare social workers’ attitudes, awareness, and understanding of the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth while in out-of-home placement. This study used quantitative data collection methods of social workers in three Southern California counties regarding these issues, and 27 such workers participated.

It was found that only half of the child welfare social workers had received training on issues involving LGBTQ foster youth, but that the majority of those workers who received training were interested in learning more about the topic. It was also found that many workers had family, fiends, or colleagues who belonged to the LGBTQ community, and that this personal connection reduced the endorsement of heterocentristic views. Political orientation was also influential with liberal social workers being less inclined to endorse the idea that the world’s inhabitants should be heterosexual. The results found that many social workers either had none or were not aware of the presence of any LGBTQ foster youth on their caseloads. This was explained with a combination of the worker not enquiring or feeling that it was not appropriate to do so. Of those who indicated that they were aware of such youth, all stated that the youth shared their identities after being asked about it or after some time had passed in working with them. Also, those who acknowledged the presence of LGBTQ youth were more cognizant of identity development issues of LGBTQ youth, were more liberal politically, and had friends in the LGBTQ community. The limitations, recommendations for social work practice, policy, and suggested further research is also discussed.

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