The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities believes in the historic importance of the federal/state partnership in ensuring all children are protected from abuse and neglect. The federal government has an important and necessary role to play in ensuring all children, regardless of state of residence, have access to a responsive and quality child protection system that is always working in the best interest of the child, regardless of personal or religious beliefs.
The paramount goal is to provide safe, stable, loving, and nurturing family-centered relationships and environments for all children and youth in the child welfare system. If a child must be removed from his or her extended family of origin, policies and practices should work quickly and effectively to reunify children with their family of origin, or ensure that strong and healthy family connections can be maintained through a non-relative home.
The Alliance cannot support policies that establish barriers to meeting the range of needs of children and youth in the child welfare system. With the nation facing a current shortfall in foster care homes, as reported by the Chronicle of Social Change, we strongly support policy decisions that increase the number of opportunities to connect all children with permanent, loving families. This includes ensuring that prospective parents who meet licensing standards are fully considered for foster care placement and adoption.
On July 11, 2018, an amendment approved by the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations would undermine the best interest of children and youth with a proposal that establishes a barrier to having services and supports aligned with the broad and unique needs of each child in the system. This proposed policy change would also result in a limit on interested and eligible persons becoming foster families, at a time when more foster families are needed. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), would prohibit state or local governments that receive federal tax dollars for child welfare services from discriminating against child welfare provider organizations, “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 circumstances that conflict with, the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” States that violate the proposed Aderholt amendment would be subjected to a 15 percent loss of child welfare federal funding affecting all children currently involved in the child welfare system in the majority of states, as well as religious and secular child welfare provider organizations.
Furthermore, when so much is at stake for children and families, this amendment incites a political divide and would spur costly litigation and other distractions. The Alliance stands opposed to the Aderholt Amendment based on our belief that state-licensed child welfare provider organizations and the public agencies that oversee them should be guided by the universal principle of acting in the best interest of children.
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