Michigan passed a law in 2015 protecting the right of faith-based foster care and adoption providers to operate consistently with their beliefs.
But apparently, the Michigan attorney general thinks it’s ok to just go ahead and ignore that law.
The office of Attorney General Dana Nessel – in a settlement agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in March – agreed that the state will no longer provide funds to foster care and adoption agencies who desire to place children in homes with a married mother and father according to their religious beliefs.
Clearly, the attorney general has one goal in mind: to shut out faith-based foster care and adoption providers.
This is anti-religious hostility, plain and simple – and it forces children to pay the price.
That’s why Catholic Charities West Michigan has filed a lawsuit.
Religious foster care and adoption providers such as Catholic Charities West Michigan are driven by their faith to serve the most vulnerable in their communities. One of the ways they do this is by providing foster care and adoption services for the many children that do not have a home. With more than 400,000 children in foster care in the U.S., and approximately 13,000 in Michigan alone, we need more organizations like this. Yet, because Catholic Charities West Michigan believes that the best place for a child is in a home with a father and a mother, some government officials would like to single them out and punish them.
Michigan works with a number of foster care and adoption providers across the state to help children find loving homes. And protecting faith-based foster care and adoption providers does not interfere with other providers. It simply ensures that there are more providers working toward the best for children.
With so many kids in foster care, why wouldn’t Michigan want to use every resource at its disposal?
Eliminating faith-based foster care and adoption providers means fewer organizations working to find children loving homes.
We’ve already seen the effects of such anti-religious hostility in other areas. Laws demanding that faith-based foster care and adoption agencies act against their beliefs have forced Catholic Charities to cease their foster care and adoption ministries in Boston; Washington, D.C.; Illinois; San Francisco; and Buffalo. In Illinois, for example, this forced thousands of children and foster parents to leave Catholic Charities – displacing roughly 3,000 children.
This is especially concerning because religious foster care and adoption providers are often the most effective at finding homes for difficult-to-place children, including groups of siblings, older children, and children with special needs. For instance, 45 percent of all Catholic Charities adoptions were children with special needs in 2016.
These places shouldn’t be kicked out of the system. They should get an award.
After all, they get it. We must keep kids first.
While the Michigan law does just that, the attorney general has decided that political ideology trumps the law – and the needs of children.
But these kids are our future – and our present – and they deserve better than that.