On Monday, December 4, the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign was launched to promote best interests of all children in foster and adoption systems.  The campaign is headed up by the Family Equality Council and includes a coalition of nearly two dozen founding organizations including the Child Welfare League of America.

The goal of the campaign is to promote the best interests of all children in the foster care and adoption system by increasing their access to loving, stable, forever homes, and to ensure safe and supportive care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth seeking family formation.

In recent years some states legislatures including Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia have enacted restrictive laws that allow discrimination in placements based on personal or “religious” beliefs.  The organized state legislative efforts come against a backdrop of increasing foster care numbers (437,000) and a lack of foster homes.  There are also an increasing number of children waiting adoption (117,000).

CWLA President and CEO Chris James-Brown said: 

“CWLA believes that children and youth deserve every opportunity to have permanent, loving families, and that discriminating against potentially qualified prospective parents limits the options for these children and young people to achieve permanency and stability. We oppose policies that discriminate regardless of what that discrimination is based on. Instead CWLA supports placing a child in a home by matching children on a case-by-case basis, based on the strengths of the family, safety of the home, and best interests of each child.”

The campaign includes a facts page built around the principles that:

  • Every child deserves a stable, loving, forever family;
  • Discriminatory child services laws hurt marginalized youth;
  • Americans and child welfare experts oppose discrimination by adoption and foster care agencies;
  • License to discriminate adoption and foster care laws harm children.

In addition to recent state action, there are also two federal bill HR 1881, Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2017, by Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) and S. 811 by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY). These bills prohibit governments that receive funding under Title IV-B, child welfare services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families or under Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance from taking an adverse action against a service provider that declines to provide, facilitate, or refer a child welfare service that conflicts with the provider’s religious beliefs or moral convictions. The prohibition also applies to Indian tribal organizations or consortia.

At the same time, Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)  have introduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, HR 2640  and S 1303. These bills prohibit adoption or foster care placement agencies that receive federal assistance from using the sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status of a prospective adoptive or foster parent, or from using the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child, to: (1) deny a person the opportunity to become an adoptive or foster parent; (2) delay or deny the placement of a child for adoption or into foster care; or (3) require different or additional screenings or procedures for adoptive or foster placement decisions, including whether to seek the termination of birth parent rights or to make a child legally available for adoptive placement.

For organizations seeking to join the campaign they can sign on here.