Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed legislation, and the Kansas governor is expected to sign legislation, that ensures valuable adoption and foster care providers – including faith-based providers – remain available to serve children as they have for decades without fear of government punishment.
These laws are a win for religious freedom and the freedom of conscience. But most importantly, they’re a win for the children in Kansas and Oklahoma. These laws make sure that children in the foster care system have as many opportunities as possible to find loving forever homes.
But organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) would have you believe that these laws hurt more than help.
They would like the government to force faith-based providers – who are often the most effective at placing older children and children with special needs – to violate their faith that requires them to place children in homes with both a mom and dad. For these child welfare providers, their faith is at the core of everything they do – including the service they provide to these children and the community. And being forced to violate that faith is unthinkable.
In fact, the government has already forced several to shut down, as the adoption services of the Catholic Charities of Boston did in 2006. Since then (at the urging of groups like the ACLU and HRC), the government has also forced faith-based providers to shut down in San Francisco, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. And as National Review reported, it has come at a high cost: “In Illinois alone, legislation that shuttered adoption serves provided by Catholic Charities led to the displacement of more than 2,000 children in 2011.”
The effect of forcing these providers to shut down is to offer fewer options for the children they serve as well as families looking to foster and adopt.
Opponents also claim that passing such laws would have a negative economic impact on the state.
But there is simply no evidence to support this.
Seven states besides Kansas and Oklahoma protect the freedom of faith-based adoption and foster care providers: Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. And they seem to be doing just fine:
Laws protecting the ability of child welfare providers to continue to serve children consistent with their values are common sense and provide a benefit to the community, particularly to the birth parents and families looking for a provider who shares their own beliefs. With 400,000 children currently in the foster care system, why wouldn’t we do everything we can to ensure as many children as possible are placed in loving forever homes?
We should all be able to agree that we must keep kids first – and that’s exactly what these laws do.