GLAD Hails Introduction of Every Child Deserves a Family Act
June 14, 2019
Legislation introduced yesterday by Senator Gillibrand (D-NY) and 15 other U.S. Senators to End Discrimination in the Child Welfare System
WASHINGTON, D.C. — GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders praised yesterday’s introduction of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act of 2019 (S.1791) in the U.S. Senate, and thanked lead sponsor Senator Gillibrand and the bill’s fifteen additional Senate co-sponsors. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House last week by lead sponsors John Lewis and Jenniffer González-Colón.
While states can and should work to update their agencies’ policies and practices in line with these goals, the ECDF will provide both incentive and assistance to improve services and foster better outcomes for all children in state care.Polly Crozier, GLAD Senior Staff Attorney
The Every Child Deserves a Family (ECDF) Act will lead to better outcomes for children in the care of our child welfare system by prohibiting federally funded providers from discriminating against children, families, and individuals based on religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. There are over 400,000 children in the United States’ foster care system, and they are disproportionately LGBTQ children and, within that group, they are disproportionately children of color. ECDF aims to ensure non-discrimination in all aspects of the child welfare system and for LGBTQ youth in the system to receive affirming and culturally competent services.
“Our child welfare system must be dedicated to the best interest of children,” said Polly Crozier, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) Senior Staff Attorney, who advocates on behalf of LGBTQ youth and families, including in the child welfare system. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we support children as much as we can in their families of origin, and ensure that discrimination isn’t leading to unnecessary removals from LGBTQ parents. At the same time, we know that LGBTQ youth continue to be disproportionately represented in our child welfare system due to family rejection and related factors. When children are in care, we must ensure that all youth, including LGBTQ youth, receive services that are affirming and culturally competent.”
ECDF directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance to states, tribes and agencies to improve services to LGBTQ and two-spirit foster youth. The bill bans conversion therapy and requires affirming services respectful of a child’s identity including race, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs and spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, and socioeconomic status.
“Our state child welfare agencies have a responsibility to provide culturally competent care and services to all the children in their care,” added Crozier. “Even in states with strong non-discrimination laws, we have a long way to go to ensure we are sufficiently meeting the needs of LGBTQ and other vulnerable youth in care. While states can and should work to update their agencies’ policies and practices in line with these goals, the ECDF will provide both incentive and assistance to improve services and foster better outcomes for all children in state care. We urge Congress to act quickly to pass this important legislation.”
ECDF will also ensure that qualified foster and adoptive parents are not turned away from providing safe and loving homes to children. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, over two-thirds of Americans oppose anti-LGBTQ discrimination in taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption services. Currently ten states allow foster care and adoption agencies to turn away qualified parents because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or marital status. Passage of the ECDF will end this discrimination and open more homes to children.
In addition to Lead Sponsor Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) cosponsors of ECDF in the Senate include Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).
GLAD is proud to join over 500 child welfare, faith, civil rights, and LGBTQ organizations who form the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, which seeks to end discrimination in foster care, adoption, and child welfare, and to promote affirming care for all foster youth.