WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., this week joined their colleagues in introducing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act to protect child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
“Faith-based adoption and foster care providers do incredible work finding loving homes for our nation’s orphans,” Wicker said. “It is deeply disturbing that certain states are seeking to drive these providers out of the marketplace because of their religious and moral beliefs, leaving children to pay the price. This legislation would protect federally-funded child welfare providers from discrimination based on their beliefs, allowing them to continue serving children in need.”
“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.”
This legislation 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.
Wicker and Hyde-Smith joined Senator Tim Scott, R-S.C., in introducing 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., 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., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Supporting organizations include the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heritage Action, 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.” said Russell Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
U.S. Representative Mike Kelly, R-Penn., introduced companion legislation in the House.