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 The Mockingbird Society stands for reflective and diverse foster parents.

In January, a South Carolina foster care agency receiving federal funds was granted a waiver by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to discriminate on the basis of religion. HHS is seeking broad authority to fund foster care and adoption agencies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals, non-Christians, and others. In other words, the current administration is condoning, encouraging, and facilitating discrimination harms against children and families by using religious beliefs and practices as justification for allowing discrimination.

The Mockingbird Society creates, supports, and advocates for racially equitable, healthy environments that develop young people at risk of or currently experiencing foster care or homelessness. In keeping with our mission, we stand with professionals, organizations, and individuals with lived experience from across the county in opposition to the current Administration allowing federally-funded child welfare agencies to discriminate based on religion, gender, sexual orientation, or marital status.

These efforts are detrimental to achieving the main objectives of the child welfare system: safety, permanency, and well-being. Government funded discrimination:

  • Threatens the safety of children by reducing the number of family-based settings and making institutional care more likely for youth. Children in care should be free from physical and emotional harm. Denying a safe, loving foster or adoptive home to a child may mean placing the child in a residential, detention, or mental health facility that is inappropriate. The federal government, through the Family First Prevention and Services Act, has acknowledged along with widely accepted research that children should not be raised in group and institutional care and are often harmed by these settings.
  • Violates a child’s right and opportunity to achieve permanency by reducing the number of foster and adoptive families who can provide homes and supportive relationships to children in need. Agencies discriminating against individuals from LGBTQ+ communities and different faith backgrounds restricts placement options that could be the best option for youth from LGBTQ+ communities and different faith backgrounds.
  • Puts child well-being at risk by placing youth with caregivers who may reject and stigmatize the youth’s sexual orientation, gender, religious background, or other identity based on the caregiver’s religious beliefs. 19% of foster youth identify as LGBTQ (over twice that of youth in the general population) and report higher rates of poor treatment while in care, are more likely to be placed in group homes, be hospitalized for emotional reasons, be involved with the criminal legal system and experience homelessness.

Discrimination in any form should be condemned as a practice that is at odds with supporting and respecting children and families. We envision every young person, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or individual experience, reaching adulthood with an equitable opportunity to thrive. Our mission is not possible without every person in our community taking an active part in the solutions to its challenges.

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