By Laura Latzko, December 2020 issue.
Being inclusive as an organization often involves taking different steps to ensure that those who are served feel welcomed and accepted.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona has worked hard to do this by creating an inclusive environment and programs for members of the LGBTQ community.
The nonprofit behavioral health organization, which serves Maricopa and Pima counties, was recognized this year in the HRC’s “Change-Makers in Child Welfare” report for its work with the LGBTQ community.
This report spotlights partnering programs that have made a commitment to being welcoming and affirming to LGBTQ individuals, including children in foster care and adoptive and fostering parents.
Devereux received the HRC’s Innovator Seal of Recognition, given to organizations within the All Children-All Families program that go above and beyond what is expected in serving the LGBTQ community.
Organizations’ rankings are based on their performances in different benchmark areas, such as staff training, their practices in working with youth and parents, leadership, non-discrimination and “rolling out the welcome mat.”
Devereux began working with the HRC in 2012 and was the first Arizona organization to receive the organization’s Seal of Recognition.
“We’re proud that we have continued and maintained that seal for the last eight years and plan on continuing that,” said executive director Yvette Jackson.
The organization has worked closely with the HRC, which has offered them trainings and reviewed their policies, paperwork, and policies to offer suggestions for improvement.
The HRC has also highlighted areas where Devereux is strong and can be used as an example for other organizations.
Jackson said Devereux strives to provide equitable, quality care for LGBT individuals, who often face disparities in areas such mental and physical illnesses, incarceration, and placement in foster care.
The Arizona organization has helped other Devereux centers by providing a guide for how to serve LGBTQ individuals.
This year, all ten of the organization’s youth-serving centers, located in different states, received an HRC Seal of Recognition.
“Arizona really provided them with the support and guidance, using the resources that we already have and the success that we had already achieved to help others,” Jackson said.
Devereux’s Arizona center works to be inclusive in different ways, including using gender-neutral forms and marketing materials and having co-ed bathrooms and dorms for youth exploring their gender identities.
Jackson said recently, the staff has been using a gender affirmative model, which is guided by the gender identity and expressions used by youth and their caregivers.
At the Devereux center, youth who identify as gender non-conforming, transgender or gender expansive receive a gender support plan.
“That basically ensures that we know what name to use. We know how they perceive safety. We know what resources they are going to need to feel comfortable and safe. We revisit those plans frequently with them to make sure that they are having a positive experience,” Jackson said.
Because of its reputation, Devereux’s Arizona center sees a high rate of LGBTQ patients.
Jackson said having an open and accepting environment also makes patients feel more comfortable being themselves.
“When you provide a safe space for them to explore their sexuality and their gender identity, you are going to have more experiences of people being open about who they are,” Jackson said.
Jackson said creating such an environment also helps LGBTQ employees like herself to feel comfortable.
“We are not only a safe space for the clients that we serve. We are also a safe space for the employees. It attracts employees who want to work for a highly-reputable and professional organization that is going to welcome and affirm them and their families,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the Devereux center employs diverse staff members from different backgrounds, who can relate to the youth that they serve.
“We always try to have the staff come from the communities of our clients so that they can relate to them and help them along with their journey,” Jackson said.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona is located at 2025 N. 3rd St. Suite 250 in Phoenix and can be reached at 602-283-1573. More information is available at devereux.org.