Every Child Deserves a Family Act

H.R. 2028; S. 1069

The Problem

More than 104,000 youth currently in the foster care system are eligible for adoption.  However, some states bar lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals or same-sex couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents, and many public child welfare agencies still discriminate against qualified, licensed LGBT foster and adoptive families, refusing to place youth with these families or forcing them to go through a more extensive, time-consuming and costly process before allowing placement.  By denying LGBT families the ability to foster and adopt children, children are denied the right to safe, happy and healthy permanent homes.  In addition, many foster and adoption agencies are hesitant to place LGBT youth, or fail to ensure their safety in those environments when they do. 

Currently, federal funds go to supporting permanent adoption and there are safety precautions in place to ensure that neither families nor youth are discriminated against because of race or religion.  There are no such safeguards against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.

What is the Every Child Deserves a Family Act?

The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDFA) prohibits any public child welfare agency receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any potential foster or adoptive family on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.  In addition, ECDFA prevents discrimination against any foster youth because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The bill prevents these public child welfare agencies from engaging in such discrimination by allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to withhold federal funding if evidence indicates that such discrimination is occurring.  To make it easier for state agencies to comply, the bill mandates that HHS provide technical assistance to all covered agencies, by outlining the various legal and practical changes the agencies will need to undertake.  The bill allows an aggrieved individual to assert a violation of these prohibitions in a judicial proceeding.

Broad Support

The American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the National Adoption Center, the Child Welfare League of America and the American Bar Association all support adoption and foster parenting by qualified unmarried and gay and lesbian parents.    

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

ECDFA was introduced in 113th Congress in the House of Representatives by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on May 16, 2013, and in the Senate by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on May 23, 2013.


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Last Updated: March 10, 2014