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Scott, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Protect Faith-Based Foster Care Providers

Press Release

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, along with Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

"In South Carolina and across the country, faith-based foster care providers support the 400,000 children in our foster care system who--through no fault of their own--have nowhere else to go," said Senator Tim Scott. "At a time when religious freedoms are under assault, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is a necessary protection for those who are living according to their convictions. I am grateful my colleagues are standing with me to protect this most fundamental right."

"The government should not make it more difficult for a child in need of a home to find a safe, loving family," said Dr. Cassidy. "It is wrong and offensive that discrimination against child welfare providers because of their religious beliefs even exists today. Parents who choose to adopt or foster a child should be able to get help from the organization of their choice."

"Our nation is entering into a precarious time when religious liberties can be so easily trampled," Hyde-Smith said. "This reasonable legislation would protect child welfare providers, who hold fast to their religious beliefs or moral convictions. States that choose to discriminate against these workers would in turn be choosing to hurt overall services for all caregivers, children, and families."

Senator Rick Scott said, "The protection of free speech and religious beliefs is enshrined in the First Amendment. I'm proud to join my colleagues to support religious freedom."

"Adoption is so important to Montana families. We should applaud and protect child welfare service providers with faith-based foundations that place foster children with loving families in Montana and across our country. The government should not discriminate based on religious affiliation to determine which providers can receive federal support," Daines said.

"Adopting a child is one of the greatest decisions a family can make," Inhofe said. "Faith-based providers working across the nation are finding their services endangered because of their religious beliefs, which in turn means fewer loving homes for children in need. That's why I am proud to join Sen. Tim Scott's legislation today which ensures child welfare providers can operate in accordance with their religious beliefs without discrimination. This is a commonsense bill which should be law."

"Religious institutions and faith-based groups have long provided some of the best adoption services in the country," said Sen. Lee. "This bill will protect their right to keep doing so in accordance with their beliefs, and ensure that children are not unnecessarily prevented from being adopted into loving homes."

Faith based groups provide homes to millions of children in need of love, support and affection. The discrimination against such groups for their religious beliefs must end. We should incentivize, not penalize, religious organizations to continue to serve the most vulnerable children in our communities. -- Senator Blackburn

"It is unacceptable for the government to make it more difficult for a child to find a safe, stable, and loving family," said Senator Tillis. "When a family decides to adopt or foster a child, they deserve to get help from the provider of their choice. Faith-based adoption and foster care providers have a history of connecting children with loving homes, and this legislation ensures those providers can continue their child welfare services free of discrimination."

"Faith-based child welfare providers are an essential part of caring for some of the most vulnerable children in our communities. I'm deeply saddened to see some government officials punish foster services for their sincere religious beliefs. That discrimination comes directly at the expense of boys and girls who are waiting for loving, healthy homes. No government agency that discriminates against people based on their faith--which goes against the interests of foster children--deserves taxpayer dollars." -- Sen. John Kennedy

"Anyone trying to improve the lives of struggling children should never have to choose between helping kids and violating their personal religious beliefs in order to comply with bureaucratic regulations," said Senator Cramer. "Our bill ensures child welfare providers can continue to operate and defend themselves properly without the threat of discriminatory government rules hanging over their heads."

U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) introduced companion legislation in the House.

"Several state and local governments are requiring faith-based adoption agencies to choose between helping kids and violating their religious faith," said Rep. Mike Kelly. "This blatant attack on the First Amendment makes it even harder for children to find loving homes. We must stand up for kids, protect these organizations, and defend religious liberty. I am proud author this legislation."

Supporting organizations include: Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, and the Family Research Council.

"Far too many children are waiting, right now, either for adoption or foster families. Our government must not stand in the way of those seeking to care for them. It is difficult to imagine a more important goal for child welfare policy than the goal of seeing vulnerable children who need a loving home be united with families committed to caring for them. Protecting the rights of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies only ensures that more children will have access to the love and support they so desperately need. This is precisely what the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would do." -- Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Background

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would protect child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
Specifically, the bill would prohibit federal, state, and local government agencies that receive federal adoption assistance funding from discriminating against child welfare service providers based on the providers' unwillingness to take action contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
This would include all agencies that receive funding under Part B (Child and Family Services) or Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care, Prevention, and Permanency) of Title IV of the Social Security Act.


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