The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act: Ensuring a Free Marketplace of Adoption Providers

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act: Ensuring a Free Marketplace of Adoption Providers

By Travis Weber Director, Center for Religious Liberty

Charitable and nonprofit organizations, many of them faith-based, contribute to the public good in ways that are almost immeasurable. Charitable work has long played an integral part in the common good of our society, providing significant and numerous benefits to people in ways the government cannot.

For example, the hundreds of ministries represented by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) collectively provide more than $9.2 billion in relief assistance. In 2010 alone, the Catholic Church spent approximately $97 billion on healthcare networks, about $47 billion on colleges, and $4.6 billion on 'national charitable activities.' In 2009 alone, overseas relief and development supported by American churches exceeded $13 billion. Religious groups are supported by religious people driven by religious ideals to conduct humanitarian work, feed the hungry, cloth the needy, and house the poor. These groups also provide education, drug rehabilitation, prison work, adoption placements, and numerous other services.

They are often very effective at what they do. The University of Chicago found that "67 percent of the graduates of a drug rehabilitation program sponsored by Teen Challenge," a faith-based network of Christian substance-abuse prevention and treatment programs, "were drug-free seven years after participating in the program..." That rate is "much higher than the 10 to 15 percent cure rate for other federally funded drug rehabilitation programs."

Religious organizations are heavily involved in adoption, and contribute especially in helping find homes for special needs children who are often difficult to place. As reported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), "[o]f the 3,794 completed adoptions by Catholic Charities agencies in 2009, 1,721 (45 percent) were of children considered to have special needs. In the same year, 541 of 1,716 adoptions (32 percent) provided by Bethany Christian Services, the largest faith-based adoption agency in the United States, were of hard-to-place older children previously in foster care."

Charities providing adoption and foster care services in particular provide important services to children and families, including alternatives to abortion. Moreover, their broader assistance helps alleviate the burdens on mothers and families in difficult situations. For instance, in 2014 alone, Catholic Charities served over 8.7 million people in the United States. The charity served over 524,000 people with some kind of housing service, provided more than 10.4 million client services that strengthened food security, benefitted over 875,000 people with some type of health service, provided 18,265 full time/client-earned job placements, served nearly 400,000 refugees and immigrants, served over 1.2 million vulnerable people, and provided adoption services to over 45,000 people. Catholic Charities does much in the way of public service, yet the organization is still being threatened by government discrimination against its religious tenets. The charity has already been forced to stop assisting with adoptions in certain locations, and along with Bethany Christian Services and other providers, is at risk of being forced out of more.

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