Groups were coming together last week to oppose the Aderholt Amendment. The amendment was offered by Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) as part of the House Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill when it was debated in House Appropriations Committee. It is similar to language and legislation sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA).

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881) and amendment allows HHS to penalize state child welfare agencies by 15 percent of either the Title IV-B and/or IV-E funds if the state is found in violation in regard to placements in foster care and adoption and the provision of services for child welfare including prevention and child protection. This issue brief calculates what each state may lose in funding as a result of various anti-discrimination child welfare laws already enacted in each state.

The Child Welfare League of America’s Letter of opposition can be read here. In the CWLA letter President & CEO Chris James-Brown, said,

“We oppose policies and practices that categorically discriminate against prospective parents, including but not limited to discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual
orientation, religion, marital status, family size, disability, medical condition, geographic location, employment status, occupation, and educational attainment.”

We support making decisions about approving prospective parents and matching children who are waiting to be adopted on a case-by-case basis, based on the strengths of the family, safety of the home, and best interests of each child…

…we oppose policies that treat youth who identify as LGTBQ unequally and/or subject them to discredited and/or abusive therapeutic techniques. All youth deserve to be raised in an environment in which they are affirmed and supported in developing a healthy identity…

Faith-based organizations have always played a key provider role in child welfare as well as other human services…Some advocates have sought to create a wedge within these communities by trying to define personal prejudices as religious or moral freedom.”

In addition, national and state organizations can still sign onto a letter of opposition already listing more than 90 child welfare and adoption agencies. The letter can be read and signed onto here. As of today the deadline to sign on as a national or state organization is the end of Monday July 23.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is circulating a letter that has been signed by more than two dozen United States Senators. CWLA members are encouraged to call their senators to and ask them to sign onto the Wyden by going to the ACTION CENTER and entering your zip code. You will be directly linked to your senator’s telephone number and a phone script.

Under the Kelly-Enzi bills and the amendment House Appropriations bill, HHS “shall not discriminate or take an adverse action against a child welfare service provider on the basis that the provider has declined or will decline to provide, facilitate, or refer for a child welfare service that conflicts with, or under circumstances that conflict with, the providers sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” That could be interpreted to include anyone who takes an action that they claim is based on their beliefs. It is not limited to claims of religious practice or doctrine and supersedes decisions and services based on the best interests of a child waiting to be adopted or in foster care.

As noted in the CWLA letter faith-based organizations have always played a key provider role in a range of human services including child care, long term and nursing home care and they have been on the front lines on helping refugee families. In recent years however, some conservative think tanks in Washington and around the country have sought to create a wedge within these communities by trying to define personal prejudices into a reinvention of what they define as religious or moral freedom. The same think tanks and interest groups have been at the forefront of labeling these programs as failed anti-poverty efforts and have sought to cut funding to these very same human services.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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