June 29, 2020 | From The Christian Post
President Donald Trump signed an executive order seeking to strengthen the nation’s foster care system which calls on states and cities to work with faith-based and other charities at a time when organizations that uphold traditional views of marriage are facing increasing hostility from Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning groups.
Trump’s order signed Wednesday highlights several areas of concern where the president is calling for more research and improvement by federal and state agencies, such as the need to bolster “robust partnerships” between community organizations, improve access to resources for caregivers, and improve federal oversight on welfare requirements. . . .
There are still more than 430,000 children in foster care nationwide and over 124,000 eligible for adoption. The president stressed that “too many” children in the foster care system have to wait years before finding a permanent family. . . .
According to the order, 40% of people who age out of foster care experience homelessness and 50% are unemployed by the age of 24. The president called these “unacceptable outcomes.” . . .
Section 2 of the order calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage “robust partnerships” between state agencies and public, private, as well as faith-based community organizations.
The orders urge the HHS secretary to require states to report on their strategies “for coordinating with nongovernmental organizations, including faith-based and community organizations, to recruit and support foster and adoptive families.” . . .
The orders call for the secretary’s guidance to “make clear that faith-based organizations are eligible for partnerships under title IV-E of the Act (42 U.S.C. 670 et seq.), on an equal basis, consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
The order comes as some states and localities in the past decade-plus have ended partnerships with Christian and church-backed foster care agencies because they do not place children in the homes of same-sex couples and refer such parents to other adoption and foster care agencies. . . .
The Trump Justice Department filed a brief to the Supreme Court in favor of protecting the ability of tax-funded faith groups to turn away and refer same-sex couples to other organizations. The Justice Department contends that turning away religious organizations from foster care programs based on their beliefs is religious discrimination. . . .
The Trump administration has in the last three years issued several orders and guidance specifically on religious freedom rights. . . .
In addition to foster relationships with charities, Trump’s executive order calls on the HHS to “equip caregivers and those in care to meet their unique challenges.” The order notes that many caregivers lack access to private, faith-based and community services.
The order also calls on the HHS secretary to issue guidance within six months on “the use of federal funds to support and encourage high-quality legal representation for parents and children, including pre-petition representation.” . . .
Among other things, the executive order calls for the publishing of data to aid “in the recruitment of community support” and collect data to “preserve sibling connections.” . . . .
In a statement, the foster and adoption care organization Bethany Christian Services applauded the executive order, stressing that it “underscores the need for all facets of our nation to work better together for the sake of vulnerable children: governments, states, nonprofit partners, faith communities, and families.”
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