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New Child Welfare Bill Will Keep More Foster Kids in Safe and Loving Homes

Every Child Deserves a Family Act Introduced Today by U.S. Congressman John Lewis

Contact: Daniel Kessel, 646-216-3343, dkessel@childrensrights.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Children’s Rights applauds the introduction of the Every Child Deserves a Family (ECDF) Act of 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives, and thanks Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) for his dedicated leadership on behalf of youth in the child welfare system, prospective foster and adoptive parents, and families touched by child welfare services. Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) joins Congressman Lewis as a cosponsor on the bill. The companion Senate bill, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), is expected to be introduced soon.

The ECDF Act explicitly 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. There is added urgency to the introduction of the bill in light of recent state policy: currently, ten states have adopted discriminatory practices that allow child welfare agencies to turn away potential foster or adoptive parents based on the agency’s religious beliefs.

“The bottom line is that our country’s most vulnerable children need access to as many safe and loving homes as possible,” said Sandy Santana, Executive Director at Children’s Rights. “The Every Child Deserves a Family Act will provide exactly that, and prevent agencies from discriminating against qualified families simply because they do not pass a religious litmus test. Our children deserve nothing less.”

Passage of the ECDF Act will open more homes to the approximately 443,000 children in U.S. foster care, 123,000 of which are eligible and waiting to be adopted.

When passed, the ECDF Act will also improve services to LGBTQ and religious minority children. The ECDF Act directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance to states, tribes and agencies to improve services to LGBTQ foster youth. The bill also bans conversion therapy and requires 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.

Children’s Rights stands with the over 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.

 

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About Children’s Rights: Every day, children are harmed in America’s broken child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, Children’s Rights holds governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org

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