A bill that would enable faith-based child welfare providers to choose what families to serve based on religious beliefs, introduced into the House appropriations process in July, was removed from a spending bill before it passed this week.
The amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), essentially attached The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881) to the Department of Health and Human Services spending bill. That piece of legislation, which has been offered for several years by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.), aims to protect faith-based groups that want to work with foster parents and/or foster youth, but only if allowed to reject same-sex couples, single people or those who identify as LGBTQ.
H.R. 1881 would empower HHS to dock 15 percent of a state’s major child welfare allocations if it took “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 provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
The amendment would codify in federal policy the protections that have been signed into law in several states since the 2015 Supreme Court decision that established same-sex marriage as the law of the land.
Aderholt is one of the four co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. He was opposed in this effort by his fellow House co-chair, Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.).
“Same-sex couples are four times more likely to adopt, but increasing barriers for willing families only denies these vulnerable children a permanent home,” Lawrence said, in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change in July. “Furthermore, minority families and especially communities of color will likely be disproportionately affected.”
A group of 40 Democrat senators sent a letter to Republican leaders on the chamber’s appropriations committee, opposing inclusion of the provision in the Senate spending bills.
The letter said the two policies “wrongfully target faith-based child placing agencies.”
If you are interested in reading more about federal child welfare and juvenile justice policy, read our annual special issue “Kids on the Hill: A Special Issue on Child Welfare Policy” by clicking here!