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HHS Takes Important First Step, Defends Faith-Based Charities from Discriminatory Regulation

January 23, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, in response to an onerous, discriminatory regulation implemented by the Obama administration nine days before President Trump took office, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would be approving a request by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster for an exception for faith-based foster care providers.

Furthermore, in a statement on Wednesday, HHS criticized the Obama-era regulation for “adding various new requirements” for foster care providers, “some of which are not reflected in the statutes authorizing this regulation.” HHS announced a new statement of policy regarding the regulation:

“Faith-based organizations that provide foster care services not only perform a great service for their communities, they are exercising a legally-protected right to practice their faith through good works. Our federal agency should not – and, under the laws adopted by Congress, cannot – drive faith-motivated foster care providers out of the business of serving children without a compelling government interest, especially now that child welfare systems are stretched thin as a result of the opioid epidemic… By granting this request to South Carolina, HHS is putting foster care capacity needs ahead of burdensome regulations that are in conflict with the law.”

Terry Schilling, executive director at American Principles Project, released the following statement applauding HHS for approving the exception for South Carolina faith-based foster care providers and urging further progress toward dismantling the discriminatory Obama-era regulation:

“Just nine days prior to President Trump’s inauguration, the Obama administration implemented a discriminatory regulation that made it the policy of the federal government to viciously discriminate against faith-based foster care providers.

“Today, HHS took an important first step toward reversing that shameful policy by providing the state of South Carolina with an official exception to the regulation, allowing these charities the ability to continue serving poor children who desperately need homes without having to violate key tenets of their faith. HHS also made it clear that the position of the Trump administration is that the Obama-era regulation is in direct conflict with the law.

“We applaud HHS for their effort to protect faith-based foster care providers, and we urge HHS and the Trump administration to continue their efforts to undo this discriminatory regulation in order to preserve the freedom of these providers to continue their important work.”

To schedule an interview with Terry Schilling, contact Paul Dupont at (o) 202-503-2010 or pdupont@americanprinciplesproject.org.


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