June is Pride Month and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is enhancing training and services to ensure LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex) youth in care are protected and supported; and calling on Illinoisans to provide welcoming, affirming and loving homes for LGBTQI+ youth in care by becoming licensed foster parents. Like all young people, LGBTQI+ youth deserve to grow up in safe, loving and caring homes. In addition to the circumstances that brought them into care, LGBTQI+ youth in care face additional challenges, including homophobia, transphobia and the constant need to assess their communities, schools, social networks and foster families to decide whether to disclose their LGBTQI+ identity, when to do so and to whom. To meet the needs of LGBTQI+ youth in care, the department is working diligently to expand its network of gender-affirming therapists, service providers, health care professionals, agencies and organizations across the state.LGBTQI+ youth in care, foster and adoptive parents and child welfare staff may call the department’s LGBTQI+ Helpline (855-814-8421) for assistance and answers to questions about their rights, available services and resources and upcoming training opportunities.To help ensure youth are receiving the best care in the safest, most comfortable environment, the department will launch enhanced required LGBTQI+ training for staff, private agency partners and foster caregivers this summer. The new training builds upon an initial Human Rights Campaign LGBTQI+ webinar training that has been completed by approximately 4,500 DCFS and private agency staff and supervisors to date.To learn more about becoming a licensed foster parent, fill out the online interest form on the DCFS website: https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs. Click on Loving Homes, then click on Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent.