The National SOGIE Center is proud to announce that the AFFIRM Youth program has recently been added to the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC) as a Promising Practice. CEBC is nationally recognized as a reliable source for evidence-based programs relevant to child welfare. All programs selected by the CEBC for inclusion in their registry undergo rigorous peer review and are rated by consistent criteria; the addition of AFFIRM Youth is recognition of the efficacy and outcomes of the program.
AFFIRM Youth, developed by National SOGIE Center partner, Affirmative Research, is the first program developed for LGBTQ+ populations to be added to the clearinghouse as a promising practice. It is an evidence-based coping skills training intervention focused on reducing mental health and behavioral risks for LGBTQ+ youth that has been implemented across the U.S. and abroad. The National SOGIE Center has used the program in its federally funded National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ2S Children and Youth in Foster Care and Center of Excellence on LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity.
AFFIRM Youth is a fully manualized clinical model focused on LGBTQ+ youth wellness—one of only a few—and its recent rating as a “promising practice” in the CEBC is a milestone for the field. “We have seen the consistent success and positive outcomes of this model in both child welfare and behavioral health settings,” noted Dr. Marlene Matarese, Principal Investigator for the National SOGIE Center. “LGBTQ+ young people find hope and affirmation when their identity is celebrated and their pain is validated. AFFIRM creates the space for this to occur in a group therapeutic setting.”
AFFIRM Youth was created by Dr. Shelley Craig and Dr. Ashley Austin of Affirmative Research who worked in collaboration with the National SOGIE Center. “We developed AFFIRM because of the crisis in LGBTQ+ youth mental health. We have been evaluating the model for fifteen years, and inclusion in the CEBC is validation of the model’s consistent positive outcomes in youth wellbeing across a range of sites,” says Dr. Craig. Participants in AFFIRM are guided through exercises that reduce depression and enhance coping skills, self-efficacy, and elevate hope. The program also increases social support and connectedness though its group therapy modality.
AFFIRM was also recently featured in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s guide for mental health providers on Adapting Evidence-Based Practices for Under-Resources Populations as an example of the importance of culturally adapted programs for LGBTQ+ populations.
National SOGIE Center Director, Dr. Angela Weeks, noted “The Center is proud to partner with Affirmative Research on the replication of their model. Acknowledgement of the program’s outcomes through the CEBC brings attention to the potential for culturally adapted and tailored programing to improve outcomes for under-served populations.” Affirmative Research is now piloting versions of AFFIRM for LGBTQ+ adults, caregivers, and professionals. “Our evaluation of these programs is equally rigorous and our preliminary findings are encouraging,” Dr. Ashley Austin stated.