News Release: For the Benefit of Children, Protect Diversity in Child Placement, Michigan Catholic Conference Urges House Committee

February 18, 2015

(Lansing, Mich.) — Protecting faith-based child placement agencies in Michigan will benefit children, help to ensure diversity in adoption and foster care and solidify the long-standing relationship between these agencies and the state, Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) testified this morning before the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee in support of House Bills 4188, 4189 and 4190.

“Supporting diversity in child placement protects the presence of faith-based entities, which in turns guarantees more placements and moves more children out of the foster care system,” said Tom Hickson, MCC Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy. “This legislation puts children first and solidifies a public/private partnership that has been in practice now for decades.”

HBs 4188–4190 would ensure that child placement agencies that operate within a faith tradition are legally allowed to continue operating under the teachings and practices of that specific faith. The legislation does not prohibit adoption or placement to any classification of persons. The bills, essentially, codify in state law what has been in practice for decades. The legislation is considered necessary after several faith-based child placement agencies across the country, including Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, San Francisco and Illinois, were confronted with a decision to either operate contrary to their moral teachings or close their doors.

“The State of Michigan has worked aggressively in recent years to strengthen its partnership with faith-based agencies in order to move more children out of foster care,” said Hickson. “This is good public policy for those who believe in diversity in child placement and having tolerance toward differing religious beliefs and cultures.”

The committee will not take a vote on the bills today, but is expected to do so in the coming weeks. Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives toward the end of the previous legislation session, but was not taken up in the Senate on the last day of the term.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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