Exciting changes coming to Ruth Ellis Center
State contract gives LGBT youth better chance at placement
By Jason A. Michael
Originally printed 11/17/2011 (Issue 1946 - Between The Lines News)
The Ruth Ellis Center has been granted a contract by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that will allow LGBT youth to be placed directly with the agency. While long a licensed child caring institution, up until now REC has operated as a non-contracted agency. This meant that an LGBT youth placed in the foster care system had to be rejected by not one, but six contracted agencies before they could be placed at REC.
"A case worker had to fill out - no exaggeration - 80 additional pieces of paperwork to get someone placed at a non-contracted agency," explained REC Executive Director Laura Hughes. "So all these things were stacked against kids who needed to come to the Ruth Ellis Center. Having a contract with the state means that LGBT kids who come into the system have the chance to come to REC on their first instance and be served by providers who are LGBT experts. This is probably the biggest thing to happen to the center since we opened Ruth's House."
The center opened Ruth's House in 2004. The Detroit duplex includes five beds on each side. The contract applies to the half of the house the center calls their intensive treatment units, where minors age 12-17 are placed. The other half operates as a transitional living center for young adults from 18-21.
"You age out of foster care when you hit 18 and you're on your own," said Hughes. "Statistics show that 25 percent of those kids age out directly into being homeless, and another 25 percent are homeless within a year. That's nationally. So if we think about LGBT kids who are underrepresented and least likely to be adopted, this really improves their ability and gives them the opportunity to be in an affirming environment, which means their chances are better later on."
Drop-in center news
In addition to the state contract, other changes are in the works at REC as well. Among them, REC's drop-in center in Highland Park is going to be open one additional day per week.
"We're expanding the hours that we're open," Hughes said. "On Thursdays we're going to have a workshop for lesbian and bisexual girls, and one for transgender youth as well. It really fits with our goal to build an inclusive environment for all LGBT youth. So I think that's really exciting as well."
While the agency, like most non-profits in the state, has faced the burden of reduced grant funding in recent years, diversifying its income streams in innovative ways has allowed them to remain viable.
"We've had substantial changes in 2007 and 2008 as far as our funding sources," said Hughes, who came on board in 2009. "Kevin Howley, our previous interim executive director, created a real sustainable business plan that we've followed to a T. We've worked really, really hard to try to get the stories of our young people out and to really talk about that really within our community. The greatest example of homophobia we face is the fact that people kick their kids - because they're LGBT - out of their homes and think that's OK."
Hughes said that the biggest proof that their message is resonating lies with the outpouring of support the agency has received from the community.
"This past year has been an incredible year of support from the community," she said. "For our annual event, we raised four times what we did last year. That's just incredible. Plus, we've more than doubled the amount that we have brought in from individual donors from last year to this year - and we're not done yet."
Much of the credit, Hughes said, goes to her staff.
"We have a new team that is fresh and innovative," she said. "It's so powerful. So many really, really exciting things are happening. I think we're really getting to see the seeds that we have planted come to fruition."For more information on the Ruth Ellis Center, visit http://www.ruthelliscenter.org.
- School To Re-Examine Policy That Led To Dismissal Of Lesbian Teacher
- The LGBT&A Caucus Changes The Political Landscapes
- Pride Night At The Palace
- Fifth Annual Transgender Health Fair
- HARC Introduces Virtual AIDS Walk
- OUTFest Returns For 20th Annual Celebration
- State Republicans Question Need For "T" In LGBT Protections
- Sterling Heights City Council Rescinds Non-Discrimination Law
- Human Sexuality Collection
- Bidwell Tovarez PLLC
- Crest Volvo
- Darrell's Firestone
- Campus; Student and Alumni Groups
- Eastern Michigan University, LGBT Resource Center
- Community Centers
- Financial Services
- MassMutual Southeast Michigan
- Pet Training
- Camp Bow Wow Clarkston
- Berman Center for the Performing Arts
- The Ark
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Q&A: Bill Hader Talks Gay Kisses ('Paul Rudd Tastes Like Chicken') & Trans Sketch ('Sorry')
- Q&A: Jennifer Hudson On Lesbian Rumors & Drag Queen Attitude: 'I Don't Care What You Think'
- Q&A: Annie Lennox On Her Legacy, Why Beyonce Is 'Feminist Lite'
- Barbra Streisand's Duet With Gay Son Is Highlight Of New Album
- BREAKING: Is Terri Lynn Land's Family Violating Nonprofit Regulations?
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer and running mate Lisa Brown sat down with BTL publishers Jan Stevenson and Susan Horowitz prior to the Michigan Democratic Convention for a wide-ranging conversation about their campaign, what a SchauerBrown administration would be like for the LGBT community and who would be included. They addressed LGBT civil rights, health issues, senior care, marriage equality and how both of them have come to be such vocal allies of the LGBT community. Here is a recap of Schauer's words on these concerns.View More Pride Source Votes
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!