About US

The National SOGIE Center is a collaborative led by Innovations Institute at the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and is comprised of multiple organizations that work to improve the lives of children and youth with diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression (SOGIE) involved in systems of care.

The National SOGIE Center includes organizations across the country leading work focused on advocacy, policy, financing, system design, intervention design, implementation, evaluation, and providing direct care services for youth and their families within the public child, youth and family-serving systems. These systems include child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health (including school mental health), substance use systems, and housing and homelessness.

Historically, accessing resources on improving care for youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, population identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two-spirit, and other diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions (LGBTQ+) has been siloed. This Center serves as a centralized site for accessing resources on providing culturally responsive care to children, youth, young adults with diverse SOGIE, and their families across these systems.

Our Principals

The work of the SOGIE Center is grounded by the following principals:

  1. LGBTQ+ young people must be supported to thrive with their family in their communities.
  2. Young people and their families are the experts in their lives, strengths, and needs and must be centered in all of our work.
  3. *Families are the best supports for raising strong, healthy, and happy children, youth, and youth adults.
  4. Systems are not replacements for families or communities.
  5. An intersectional analysis that examines power and identity must be applied to all our work. SOGIE must be understood as interconnected with race, ethnicity, class, ability or immigration status, which together impacts the experiences, opportunities, and health status of LGBTQ+ young people and their families.
  6. People deserve access to services that are proven to work.
  7. Communities, families, advocates, and allies should hold systems accountable for better policies and practices to ensure that LGBTQ+ youth and their families are supported.
  8. In order to create equitable care for LGBTQ+ youth, we work to acknowledge the history of anti-Black racism and the genocide and forced assimilation of Native peoples that has impacted our laws, policies, and practices even to this day and we must recognize and work to dismantle the harm this causes to all youth, specifically LGBTQ+ youth.

 *Families include families of origin and families of choice.

Innovations Institute Staff Directory

Marlene Matarese, Ph.D., M.S.W.

Deputy Director
Pronouns: she/her

Angela Weeks, D.B.A.

Project Director
Pronouns: she/her

Sarah Warner, M.S.W.

Senior Program Specialist
Pronouns: any

Lyndsay Smith, M.S.

Senior Program Specialist
Pronouns: she/her

Elizabeth Greeno, Ph.D., LCSW-C

Lead Evaluator
Pronouns: she/her

Paige Hammond, M.H.S.

Lead Research Analyst
Pronouns: she/her

Sean Aaron Betsinger, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst
Pronouns: he/him

Darquita Fletcher, LCSW-C

Project Director, National Quality Improvement Center on Family-Centered Reunification
Pronouns: she/her

Partner Directory

Best Point of Contact: Ashley Austin and Shelley Craig – mail@affirmativeresearch.net

Mission Statement: Using an integrated affirmative research and practice framework, ARC engages in innovative research and provides training and consultation aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, queer, etc.) youth and young adults.

Website: https://www.affirmativeresearch.net/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Best Point of Contact: Kristen Weber – kristen.weber@cssp.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • Collection of SOGIE data
  • Addressing racial inequities
  • Applying intersectional analysis

Mission Statement: CSSP works to achieve a racially, economically, and socially just society in which all children and families thrive.

Website: https://cssp.org/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Best Point of Contact: fap@sfsu.edu 

Areas of Expertise:

  • Family acceptance
  • Training professionals across settings on helping diverse families to support their LGBTQ+ children
  • Clinical case consultation

Description: The Family Acceptance Project® is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative to prevent health and mental health risks for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer-identified (LGBTQ) children and youth, including suicide, homelessness, drug use and HIV — in the context of their families, cultures and faith communities. We use a research-based, culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, racially and religiously diverse families learn to support their LGBTQ children.

Website: https://familyproject.sfsu.edu/; https://lgbtqfamilyacceptance.org/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Best Point of Contact: Vida Khavar – vkhavar@familybuilders.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • LGBT family adoption
  • LGBTQ+ youth in foster care
  • Family engagement, youth acceptance, permanency

Mission Statement: Family Builders believes that every child has the right to grow up in permanent nurturing loving family. Family Builders educates the community about the needs of children in foster care, advocates on their behalf and creates permanent secure families through adoption and other forms of permanency.

Website: https://familybuilders.org/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Best Point of Contact:

  • Coming soon!

Areas of Expertise:

  • Coming soon!

Mission Statement: Our mission is to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing equality for the LGBTQ+ community.

Website: https://www.familyequality.org

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

  • Coming soon!

Best Point of Contact: Alison Delpercio – alison.delpercio@hrc.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • Staff Training (Virtual & In-Person)
  • Online Learning (Synchronous & Asynchronous)
  • Policy & Practice Technical Assistance
  • Capacity Building

Mission Statement: The Human Rights Campaign Foundation improves the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people by working to increase understanding and encourage the adoption of LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and practices.

Website: https://www.thehrcfoundation.org/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Best Point of Contact: Sheila Pires – sapires@aol.com, Kathy Lazear – klazear@usf.edu

Areas of Expertise:

  • Developing systems of care for children youth and their families
  • Cultural and linguistic competence to achieve health equity
  • Policy and financing related to children, youth, young adults
  • Families involved in multiple systems
  • Re-design and re-financing of service systems to support home and community-based alternatives to institutional care
  • Medicaid reforms that support children, youth and young adults with behavioral health challenges and families involved with child welfare
  • Integration of system of care principles and approaches within publicly financed managed care
  • Coordination among child and family service systems, including Medicaid, behavioral health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and education, at federal, state and local levels

Mission Statement: Human Service Collaborative assists national, state, and local governments, communities and neighborhood collaboratives, and federal and foundation funders to develop policies and programs to achieve:

  • Effective services and supports for children, youth and families that are individualized, comprehensive, family and youth driven, community-based and culturally and linguistically competent to achieve health equity
  • Collaboration and service integration across agencies and jurisdictions
  • Cohesive, flexible systems of care for children, youth and families in and at risk of involvement in multiple systems

Best Point of Contact: Christopher Bellonci – cbellonci@jbcc.harvard.edu

Areas of Expertise:

  • Evaluation design, evaluation implementation, and interpretation of findings.
  • Clinical issues and on culturally responsive best practices in supporting LGBTQ+ youth
  • Clinical issues impacting youth and families including the known increased risk of suicidality; depression and anxiety disorders; responses to trauma, bullying and rejection by peers and family; substance use and other known mental health risk factors.

Mission Statement: Judge Baker Children’s Center promotes the best possible mental health of children and families through the integration of research, intervention, training and advocacy.

  • Through research we identify best practices.
  • Through intervention we bring those practices to children and families of diverse communities.
  • Through training we disseminate skills in research and quality care.
  • Through advocacy we use scientific knowledge to expand public awareness and inform public policy.

Website: https://jbcc.harvard.edu/

Best Point of Contact: Currey Cook – ccook@lambdalegal.org; Maia Zelkind – mzelkind@lambdalegal.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • State and federal policy advancing rights of LGBTQ+ youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems and systems serving youth experiencing homelessness
  • Impact litigation on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth and families involved with out-of-home care systems
  • Education and trainings for attorneys, child advocates, and court systems on providing LGBTQ+ affirming and supportive services to youth in systems of care

Mission Statement: Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.   

Website: https://www.lambdalegal.org/

Best Point of Contact: Danny King – DKing@nclrights.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • Legal rights of LGBTQ children and youth in government custody, schools, and health care settings
  • SOGIE data collection
  • Child welfare and youth justice agency policy
  • Eradicating conversion therapy

Mission Statement: NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education. NCLR’s work on behalf of LGBTQ youth includes promoting the well-being of youth in foster care and youth justice systems, protecting youth from the harms of conversion therapy, promoting safety and equality in schools, and ensuring that transgender youth have the supports they need to thrive.

Website: https://www.nclrights.org

Initiatives, Training, and Resources:

Best Point of Contact: training@ruthelliscenter.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • Direct service and program provider with BIPOC LGBTQ+ youth and their families in child welfare, RHY, and integrated health (CMH)
  • LGBTQ+ young adult specific Non-time Limited Housing in public continuum of care.

Mission Statement: It is our mission, to create opportunities with LGBTQ+ young people to build their vision for a positive future.

Website: https://www.ruthelliscenter.org/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Best Point of Contact:

Lydia Proulx – lydia@youthmovenational.org and Johanna Bergan – johanna@youthmovenational.org

Areas of Expertise:

  • Youth engagement in systems change

  • Youth peer support implementation support

  • Youth peer and youth peer supervision training

  • LGBTQ+ youth lived experience in mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice

Mission Statement: We the members of Youth MOVE National will work as a diverse collective to unite the voices and causes of youth while raising awareness around youth issues.  We will advocate for youth rights and voice in mental health and the other systems that serve them, for the purpose of empowering youth to be equal partners in the process of change. 

Website: https://youthmovenational.org/

Initiatives, Training, Resources:

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest resources & learning opportunities!