I am writing to express my opposition to new regulations proposed by the Virginia Department of Social Services that violate the rights of faith-based child welfare agencies, and will deny countless orphaned and vulnerable children the right to a permanent,loving family.
Proposed regulation 22 VAC 40-131-170(B) would require a Licensed Private Child Placing Agency to accept any individual who applies to become a foster or adoptive parent regardless of whether that individual shares the agency’s religious and moral beliefs. Agencies that do not comply with this regulation would be in danger of losing their license.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has a long and proud tradition of citizens of faith working together to care for and protect children. In fact, a significant number of children who are adopted today are adopted with the help of faith-based organizations. These groups have been successful at protecting children and providing them with permanent, loving homes because of their tireless advocacy on behalf of children. The proposed regulation, however, would forever silence one of the strongest voices for children in the Commonwealth.
This regulation is a clear violation of the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion and is an attempt to elevate the rights of one group of citizens at the expense of another. What’s worse is that countless children in Virginia and around the world will be denied their fundamental right to a family if it is allowed to become law.
I urge you to do everything in your power to oppose this regulation and protect the right of faith-based organizations to continue to serve children.
I will be following this issue and your response closely.