Representative Kelly and Senator Tim Scott Introduce Legislation to Protect Religious Liberty for Adoption and Foster Care Providers

Mar 10, 2021

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) today introduced the Child Welfare Inclusion Act, a bill to ensure state and local governments cannot discriminate against faith-based adoption and foster care providers by forcing them to choose between offering these vital services and violating their deeply held religious beliefs. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“Several state and local governments are requiring faith-based adoption agencies to choose between helping kids and violating their religious faith," said Kelly. "This blatant attack on the First Amendment makes it even harder for children to find loving homes. By passing this legislation, Congress can stand up for kids and defend religious liberty."

“In South Carolina and across the country, faith-based foster care providers support the 400,000 children in our foster care system who—through no fault of their own—have nowhere else to go,” said Senator Tim Scott. “At a time when religious freedoms are under assault, the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act is a necessary protection for those who are living according to their convictions. I am grateful my colleagues are standing with me to protect this most fundamental right.”

Several members of the House joined Kelly as original co-sponsors. They are Representatives William Timmons (R-S.C.), Michael Cloud (R-Texas), Rick Allan (R-Ga.), Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) Randy Weber (R-Texas), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.), Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), and Gary Palmer (R- Ala.).

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), James Risch (R-Idaho), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) joined Senator Scott on the Senate version of the legislation.

Background

  • The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would protect child welfare providers from being discriminated against for acting in accordance with their deeply held religious beliefs.
  • Specifically, the bill would prohibit federal, state, and local government agencies that receive federal adoption assistance funding from discriminating against child welfare service providers based on the providers’ unwillingness to take action contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.
  • This would include all agencies that receive funding under Part B (Child and Family Services) or Part E (Federal Payments for Foster Care, Prevention, and Permanency) of Title IV of the Social Security Act.

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