Religious bigotry fuels growing “child welfare crisis”

 LGBT-family paper-cutouts

A recently published report reaffirms The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s opposition to religious discrimination in adoption and foster care.

The Center for American Progress, Voice for Adoption, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children have published a new report confirming that religious exemption laws allowing agencies to deny prospective adoptive or foster parents on the basis of their sexuality is worsening the current “child welfare crisis.”

There were more than 440,000 children in foster care in the United States in 2017, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Some 50,000 of these children will be adopted every year through the child welfare system, while another 20,000 will “age out” of the system before being adopted.

Currently, at least 10 states have laws in place that allow religiously affiliated adoption and foster care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ prospective parents, despite evidence (and common sense) suggesting that children raised in same-sex households are just as emotionally and physically healthy as those raised by straight couples.

Handing religious groups a ticket to discriminate against LGBTQ families seeking adoption or foster care is morally reprehensible and inimical to the well-being of the hundreds of thousands of children currently in the foster care system.

“Turning away LGBTQ prospective parents by asserting a religious exemption or taking advantage of a lack of state nondiscrimination law is a violation of this group’s rights,” the report states. “It also negatively affects the already strained child welfare system, ultimately harming the children in its care.”

Additionally, turning away LGBTQ parents who are looking to adopt or foster is fiscally irresponsible and puts further financial burden on an already struggling taxpayer-funded system.

“Each child adopted from foster care, even with adoption assistance support, reduces state and federal spending by almost $29,000 annually when compared with those children who remain in foster care,” the report states. “If the child welfare system finds adoptive families for just 1,000 10-year-old children who would otherwise have aged out of foster care at 18, a rough estimate suggests it would save $230 million of taxpayer money over eight years.”

Ultimately, the health and care of a child should be the only factor that a child welfare agency and its employees take into consideration — not advancing the bigoted agendas of state contractors promoting discriminatory dogma at the expense of children in need.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members and several chapters across the country, including members in every state. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

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