Leading a multistate coalition, Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting several foster parents – affiliated with Catholic Social Services – who are suing the city of Philadelphia over its policy blocking foster care providers who hold traditional beliefs about marriage. The outcome of the case – Fulton v. City of Philadelphia – may impact the ability of states to continue working with both religious and nonreligious child welfare providers.
In his brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Attorney General Paxton pointed out the need of states and municipalities for child-placement help from all qualified agencies.
“By allowing child-placing agencies that have a religious tradition of helping children in need, like Catholic Social Services, states increase the diversity of child-placing agencies in their jurisdictions, and because these faith-based organizations possess a religious duty to help children in need, they increase the chances that a child in state care will find a safe, loving home,” he wrote.
Last March, the city of Philadelphia suspended its foster care contract with Catholic Social Services because it disagrees with the agency’s religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. This happened at the same time Philadelphia issued an urgent plea for 300 new foster families. In July, a federal judge ruled that Philadelphia has the right to require religious foster agencies to abandon their religious beliefs and adhere to its city policies.
In Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services works with private child-placing agencies to find loving homes for children in the foster care system. Several of the child-placing agencies that work with the Department are faith-based organizations, but many are not. For Texas, as with many states, the priority is placing children in safe, loving homes. Working with both religious and nonreligious child placing agencies ensures that Texas finds as many placement opportunities for children as possible.
Last session, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of religious child-placing agencies and prohibits the State from granting or denying funding to such organizations because of their religious beliefs.
Joining Texas on the friend-of-the-court brief are the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.