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Voice for Adoption: Hails Introduction of Legislation to End Discrimination in the Child Welfare System

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Voice for Adoption: Hails Introduction of Legislation to End Discrimination in the Child Welfare System

Every Child Deserves a Family Act introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  Voice for Adoption (VFA) welcomes the bipartisan introduction of the  Every Child Deserves a Family (ECDF) Act of 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives, and thanks lead sponsors Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) and Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) for their dedicated leadership on behalf of children and teens in the foster care and prospective adoptive and foster parents and families touched by child welfare services. Additionally, VFA thanks the 15 cosponsors of the companion Senate bill introduced today by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

There are more than 123,000 children in the US foster care system who are currently waiting to be adopted; less than half of these children will find their permanent families in the next year. Each year, about 20,000 young people will age out of foster care without a permanent family. Discriminatory practices in the 10 states that allow foster care and adoption agencies to turn away qualified parents because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or marital status deny children the loving foster and adoptive families they need and deserve.

Voice for Adoption (VFA)—a leading advocacy organization for children in foster care waiting to be adopted and adoptive families—strongly believes that passage of Every Child Deserves a Family Act will end this discrimination and ensure that more children in foster care have a family to love and care for them.

 “VFA believes that every child deserves a permanent, loving family and that our country needs to ensure that every prospective foster and adoptive family is considered fairly based on their ability to meet children’s needs,” said Schylar Baber, interim Executive Director at VFA. “By ending discrimination in foster care and adoption, we can increase the number of children who are placed in families rather than group care, increase the likelihood that they will exit care to a permanent family, and reduce the amount of trauma that children and their families are exposed to.”

When passed, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act will reinforce the child welfare principle that the child’s best interest must be a priority and will improve services to LGBTQ children and children of varied faiths or no faith. ECDF prohibits taxpayer-funded adoption, foster care and child welfare agencies from discriminating against children, families, and individuals based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and marital status, and it directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance to states, tribes and agencies to improve services to LGBTQ and two-spirit youth in foster care. The bill bans conversion therapy and requires publicly funded agencies to provide affirming services respectful of a child’s identity including race, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs and spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, and socioeconomic status.

The right to believe as we choose, without fear of discrimination, is among our country’s most fundamental freedoms and must be zealously protected. Prospective foster and adoptive parents should not lose their religious freedom when they seek to open their homes to children in need. By ensuring that propsective parents are not disqualified because of whether or how they worship, their marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity the ECDF Act preserves the founding principles of freedom of belief and equality for all. Voice for Adoption celebrates and will work to pass this legislation that protects the religious freedom of countless prospective foster and adoptive parents and youth in care.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, over two-thirds of Americans oppose anti-LGBTQ discrimination in taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption services. The ECDF Act affirms the core American value of equality for all and protects one of our most vulnerable populations, foster children, from discrimination in child welfare systems.  Congress must uphold the will of the American people by passing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.

VFA stands with the more than 500 child welfare, faith, civil rights, and LGBTQ organizations who form the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, which seeks to end discrimination in foster care, adoption, and child welfare, and to promote affirming care for all foster youth.

About Voice for Adoption

Voice for Adoption (VFA) advocates on behalf of over 120,000 children in foster care who are waiting to be adopted. VFA works with policy makers, leaders, and organizations to encourage best practices and improved policies that could make a positive impact on the lives of children in foster care. For me information visit www.voice-for-adoption.org.

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