The President issued an executive order last Thursday that was intended to address the goals of his more conservative religious base by providing greater “religious freedom,” but after earlier initial reports, he did not include language that would allow for discrimination in the placement of children in foster and adoptive homes.
A draft that had circulated in February would have allowed discrimination in foster care, adoption and kinship care placement decisions based on religious beliefs or personal beliefs that an individual claimed was based on religious beliefs. Just as in February the order did not come out and instead the President offered up an executive order that was directed toward allowing greater political activity by churches and religious organizations and expand ability of providers to opt out of some of the health care coverage expanded under the ACA.
CWLA has joined with six other organizations in issuing a joint statement for Equality for LGBTQ Families and Youth
The February draft executive order (which may still surface later this year) had been widely circulated and at least one Washington publication reported its possible release as part of the Thursday action. That draft said:
“[HHS] shall take all appropriate action to ensure that the Federal Government shall not discriminate or take any adverse action against a religious organization that provides federally-funded child-welfare services, including promoting or providing adoption, foster, or family support services for children, or similar services, on the basis that the organization declines to provide, facilitate, or refer such services due to a conflict with the organization’s religious beliefs. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, where authorized by law, promptly propose for notice and comment new regulations consistent with this policy. “
CWLA has long opposed such discriminatory practices in the placement of children. CWLA policy on discriminatory practices:
Section 3.18 of CWLA’s Standards of Excellence for Family Foster Care Services establishes a policy of nondiscrimination in the selection of foster parents, stating, “The family foster care agency should not reject foster parent applicants solely due to their age, income, marital status, race, religious preference, sexual orientation, physical or disabling condition, or location of the foster home” (CWLA, 1995).
Regarding adoptions, CWLA states, “All applicants should be assessed on the basis of their abilities to successfully parent a child needing family membership and not on their race, ethnicity or culture, income, age, marital status, religion, appearance, differing lifestyle, or sexual orientation. Applicants should be accepted on the basis of an individual assessment of their capacity to understand and meet the needs of a particular available child at the point of the adoption and in the future” (CWLA, 2000).
In regard to youth, CWLA states, “Youth who are LGBTQ and have been rejected, abused or neglected by their family because of their identities are at serious risk for health problems in adulthood. All youth should be afforded the same treatment and respect regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The child welfare system must ensure youth in care who are LGBTQ receive support, acceptance and access to coping strategies to help them successfully transition to adulthood.”