NJ LGBTQ Homeless Help for New Social Services Training

Over 300 staff from 66 New Jersey organizations providing direct social service in the area of ​​homelessness prevention have received training from the State Department of Social Services to meet the unique needs of lesbian, gay communities. , bisexual, transgender and allies of the Garden State.

This is just the start, according to Deputy Commissioner for Social Services Elisa Neira, who said the ICARE (Inclusion, Courtesy, Outreach, Outreach, Respect and Education) training is delivered in partnership with the Rutgers University School of Social Work Institute. for Families and the Hudson Pride Center.

It is funded by a two-year, $ 600,000 government investment that began in fiscal 2021.

“Our goal is to be able to expand it as much as possible,” said Neira. “We have already launched the training in June, which is also LGBTQI + Pride Month.”

The training grew out of recommendations made in a 2019 Transgender Equality Task Force report commissioned by Governor Phil Murphy, citing national data that clearly identified barriers faced by transgender people in New Jersey in particular.

Neira said they are exceptionally sensitive to family issues, unstable housing, intimate partner violence, discrimination in the workplace, and mental health or substance abuse issues.

“All of these things are things that we want to make sure that the people in this space are equipped to be able to respond,” said Neira. “A significant percentage of those polled in New Jersey said they avoided staying at a shelter because they feared being mistreated as a transgender person.”

Such a response was a call to action for the state, according to Neira, as it identified a lack of uniform practices among social service organizations and a need to train their staff members on implicit biases, cultural humility and the basics of gender. identity and expression.

Continuing to examine the critical issues facing the LGBTQI + community and the protections afforded them by federal and state laws will ensure more welcoming and inclusive spaces provided by social service agencies, Neira said.

She said we all deserve respect and dignity, and when it comes to that, “learning never ends”.

“There is always room for improvement in how we can truly ensure that the way we deliver our services continues to improve to truly meet the needs of the people we serve,” said Neira.

Homeless people are encouraged to call NJ211 to be connected to local county resources, or visit njhelps.org.

Patrick Lavery is the anchor for the New Jersey 101.5 afternoon news. Follow it on Twitter @ plavery1015 or send an email to [email protected]

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