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Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act

116th Congress: H.R. 897; S. 274

What is the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act?

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would undermine the government’s ability to ensure child welfare organizations make decisions based on the best interest of children. The bill would allow child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care providers, to make placement determinations based on the organization’s “religious beliefs or moral convictions” regardless of the needs of the child. In addition, the bill would bar the federal government and states receiving federal funding from taking action to ensure that all children receive the loving, stable home they deserve.

The bill also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to withhold 15% of the federal funds a state receives to administer child welfare programs if it fails to comply with the provisions of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act. The bill would override state non-discrimination statutes and effectively allow taxpayer funds to be used to discriminate. The legislation uses the pretense of religious freedom to advance rather than bring an end to discrimination in the placement of children for adoption or foster care.

Child Welfare Providers and the LGBTQ Community

More than 104,000 youth living in the foster system today are eligible for adoption. In many states, child welfare agencies continue to discriminate against qualified, licensed lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) foster and adoptive families, refusing to place youth with these families. By denying LGBTQ families the ability to foster and adopt, children are denied the right to safe, happy, and healthy permanent homes.

Some states have taken steps to ensure all qualified individuals or couples have the opportunity to be parents, passing laws that prevent providers participating in state funded child welfare programs from discriminating against LGBTQ people, and children, in adoption or foster placements. Federal funds support state operated adoption and foster care programs, and bar states and providers receiving those resources from denying or delaying adoption or foster care placements on the basis of an adoptive parent's or a child's race, color, or national origin. There are no such safeguards against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.

In the absence of such federal protections, the door has been left open for adoption or foster care providers to deny adoption or foster care placements with qualified, LGBTQ individuals or same-sex couples on the basis of their personal religious objections. The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would exacerbate this problem and deny LGBTQ people the few protections they have in states that have prohibited anti-LGBTQ discrimination in state funded child welfare programs and adoption and foster placement.

What is the Current Status of the Bill?

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act was introduced in the House of Representative by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), and in the Senate by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) on January 30, 2019.


For more information, please contact Read about other Federal Legislation pertinent to the LGBTQ community here.

Last Updated: October 2, 2019