Review identifies gaps in knowledge base, identifies areas for future.
Despite social and legal progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) people in the United States, much about low-income and at-risk LGBT individuals and their participation in federal human service programs remains unknown. In fact, data suggest LGBT people may be disproportionately at risk of poor outcomes related to economic security and social well-being, compared to the general population.
To address this knowledge gap, Mathematica Policy Research, in partnership with the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, conducted an assessment for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families ( ACF ), Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation. The project aims to help identify the current knowledge base and priorities for future research and, ultimately, strengthen services for low-income and at-risk LGBT people.
A report and related issue brief look at LGBT populations' characteristics and interactions with human services and identify data gaps. The project focused on ( 1 ) income support and self-sufficiency programs for low-income families, ( 2 ) child welfare programs, and ( 3 ) programs for youthespecially services funded by ACF ( assistance for runaway and homeless youth, and sexual health education for adolescents ). Three additional briefs delve into recommendations for future research in these key focus areas: income support and self-sufficiency, child welfare programs, andyouth services.
"Overall, our review suggests that LGBT people could benefit from improvements to social services, such as increasing providers' familiarity with the needs and circumstances of LGBT people. We found, however, there is a need for more research to better understand the risks that LGBT people face, whether they encounter barriers in accessing services, and the kinds of interventions that may be effective for them," explained Andrew Burwick, senior researcher at Mathematica and project director.
"We used a variety of methods to conduct the assessment," added Gary Gates, Blachford-Cooper distinguished scholar and research director, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. "We developed an annotated bibliography on LGBT populations and human services, consulted with an expert panel and representatives of ACF program offices, conducted secondary data analyses, completed case studies of providers serving runaway and homeless LGBT youth, and conducted telephone interviews with staff at state and community agencies providing various types of human services to LGBT people."
Overall, the project identified the following key areas for further research:
Developing sources of population-based and administrative data that include measures of sexual orientation and gender identity;
Continuing to explore the nature of risk and protective factors among LGBT people, notably subpopulations, especially transgender people and people of color;
Understanding potential barriers to service access;
Identifying and documenting efforts to improve human service delivery to LGBT populations; and
Evaluating the effectiveness of human service interventions targeting LGBT populations.
Click on the link for the full report on human services for low-income and at-risk LGBT populations: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/research/project/research-development-project-on-human-service-needs-of-lgbt-populations.
Mathematica Policy Research seeks to improve public well-being by conducting studies and assisting clients with program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data management. Its clients include foundations, federal and state governments, and private-sector andinternational organizations. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, NJ; Ann Arbor, MI; Cambridge, MA; Chicago, IL; Oakland, CA; and Washington, DC, has conducted some of the most important studies of healthcare, international development, disability, education, family support,employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs.
About the Williams Institute:
The Williams Institute is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research onsexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policymakers, and the public. For more information go to: williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu .