April 20, 2018
If federal lawmakers want to show they care about children and families, there's perhaps no better opportunity in the near term than by passing the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (CWPIA). Pending in the House as H.R. 1881 (introduced by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.)), and in the Senate as S. 811 (introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.)), CWPIA would ensure that the maximum number of adoption providers remain in the marketplace and are able to serve America's overloaded and burdened foster-care systems. As FRC's Travis Weber recently pointed out in an analysis of the topic, CWPIA is a win-win solution to our current foster-care dynamic. Protecting the freedom of providers to operate according to their beliefs ensures the maximum number of providers remain open for business and able to serve the ever-present waiting list of children looking for families to take them in. It also ensures the maximum number of potential adoptive families looking for children.
Charitable organizations, as Travis observes, make massive financial contributions to our nation's public welfare -- often without recognition or credit. These organizations include adoption providers. Yet these same providers are facing threats to their existence. They have already been forced out of Massachusetts, Illinois, the District of Columbia, and San Francisco due to their beliefs, and some were just suspended in Philadelphia. As they seek to follow their beliefs while continuing to serve the public good, the threat to them has continued to metastasize in other states, with lawsuits and public pressure opposing their freedom to operate according to their beliefs.
Enter CWPIA, which would make sure providers can't be excluded from the adoption marketplace for ideological reasons. As Travis points out, with hundreds of thousands of children awaiting adoption, why do we want to stop more people from helping? Additionally, the number of children adopted has declined in recent years. We need all the help we can get.
The same goes for retaining potential adoptive families. The rate at which families adopt has also declined in recent years, so we need to attract every potential adoptive family. Many of these families are religious, and want to work with a provider who shares their values. If such providers are forced out of the space, however, who will these families work with? They are much more likely to opt out of the process.
In sum, CWPIA doesn't prevent anyone from adopting children; it just keeps more providers in the marketplace and able to help.
We already don't have enough help from families and providers to care for all the children in foster care. As faith-based providers face threats to their existence from those opposed to their beliefs, we must remember that forcing them out will only take away from this effort to help, and further dissuade potentially adoptive families.
For all these reasons and more, CWPIA is the right remedy at the right time. Join FRC and Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Penn.), the bill's sponsor in the House, for a discussion of this issue next week on April 26th. We hope to further spread the word about how to provide maximum care for the maximum number of vulnerable foster children in our country. In this case, that will happen by ensuring the maximum number of adoption providers remain open and free to help them. Your Congressman and two Senators need to hear from you! Please contact them and urge them to co-sponsor the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881 / S. 811).
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.