|Action||Adopt new standards for licensed private child-placing agencies.|
|Comment Period||Ends 4/1/2011|
It's unfortunate that this public comment process has been swamped by commenters directed here from conservative and fundamentalist Christian websites. With all due respect to the frequenters of those sites, it is sadly the case that most of the comments I've seen posted here are ill-informed and barely even relevant to the regulatory revisions being proposed. I strongly urge VDSS to disregard such comments, and to recognize that they do not reflect the views of most Virginians.
Virginia's child welfare system has an incredibly important, difficult mission: to find safe, loving homes for vlunerable children - with their parents or other relatives whenever possible, with adoptive parents when that's not possible, and on a temporary basis with foster families when that's necessary to protect the children. That mission is too important and too difficult to allow anything to get in the way that is not directly related to the safety and permanency of those children. It would be contrary to that mission to allow 'respect for the traditional family' to lead to barring unmarried or gay couples from becoming foster or adoptive parents - just as, in a different era, it was wrong to demonstrate 'respect for African American culture' by preventing African American children from being placed with White families. It's simply not relevant to the mission, and the mission is too important to indulge any irrelevancies.
In addition, the legal basis for the proposed regulations regarding non-discrimination by CPAs is crystal clear. The Commonwealth of Virginia is already prohibited from discriminating in its contracting and other business based on any of the criteria spelled out in the regulation. When child-placing agencies recruit, select and train prospective foster and adoptive parents they do so on behalf of, and under the direct authority of, the Commonwealth. Therefore, CPAs may not discriminate in their conduct of those responsibilities - they are acting as agents of the Commonwealth, and must adhere to the standards that apply to the Commonwealth. If a prospective CPA disagrees with those standards it is their right not to contract with the Commonwealth; but they do not have the right to acquire the Commonwealth's authority (and to be paid for fulfilling it) and then disregard the Commonwealth's standards and legal obligations. Those who disapprove of those standards and obligations have the right to their moral convictions, but their convictions do not supercede the law.
For my own part, i believe that finding permanent, safe, loving homes for children in foster care is a compelling public interest, and one of the most urgent human and moral problems in our society. I believe that safe, loving families are hard to find, and that any such family - no matter what the sexual identity of its members - is much better for a vulnerable child than foster care. And i believe that strking a symbolic pose in favor of a traditional view of the family, at the expense of vulnerable children, is morally and ethically abhorent.
Thank you, and I pray that you have the courage and integrity to make a wise decision.