Today, there are more than 400,000 children in the foster care system with more than 100,000 of them awaiting adoption. The opioid crisis is adding approximately 90,000 children a year into the child welfare system. These numbers are overloading an already-burdened system. We need action to help these children — and we need it now!
Unfortunately, the action some liberals have chosen to take is to target faith-based agencies and force them out, solely because their desire to help children comes from their religious beliefs! They’ve been successful in a few states and localities like Massachusetts, Illinois, the District of Columbia, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Ten states, most recently Kansas and Oklahoma, have stood up for these kids and passed legislation to protect these agencies.
But the federal government needs to act too! Thankfully, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) have introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881/S. 811) to protect faith-based agencies ability to continue helping in the crisis. While these members push their bill in Congress, the crisis grows! Understanding this, Rep. Kelly and Sen. Enzi, along with 78 other law makers have sent a letter to President Trump calling for executive action. As they pointed out, “Too much is at stake to place politics above the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children. Members of Congress are working to develop legislative solutions. But this issue is so important that all branches of government must take responsible action.”
Specifically, the letter called on the Trump administration to enforce existing legal protections that prohibit states from withhold funding based on an organization’s religious beliefs. It also urged the Department of Health and Human Services to review old regulations from the Obama administration that are hostile to religious belief and consider issuing new regulations that are in line with the president’s executive order on “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” These new regulations should ensure that foster care and adoption contracts are administered equally and in a manner that protects the unique religious identity, beliefs and practices of faith-based agencies.
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While Congress fights over values issues given partisan divides, the Trump administration can — as they did with the new rules for family planning providers — act to protect faith based adoption and foster care providers. Let’s hope they do!
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.