Virginia's children need permanent, safe and stable families. The challenge currently facing our system is a lack of eligible families to provide this desperately needed resource. The only way to overcome this challenge is to stop discriminatory policies that limit the number of families.
Our children do not need foster care and adoption agencies to be protected and allowed to discriminate. They need to be protected from being abandoned to institutions or from aging out of our foster care system with no resources and a dismal chance at becoming a productive contributing member of our society in the future.
The facts are clear. There are plenty of ready, willing and able agencies and organizations willing to provide nondiscriminatory foster care and adoption services. There are also plenty of ready, willing and able individuals and couples prepared to be foster and adoptive parents if this policy is changed and access to this opportunity is made available to them.
The Commonwealth can no longer afford to protect the business and financial interests of religious organizations who proport a mission to serve Virginia's children and families, while simultaneously putting barriers in place that prevent equal access for all Virginians. Nearly four years ago Virginia committed to the child welfare transformation in an effort to keep children in the community, with families and ensure that they have a permanent plan for stability before aging out of the system. If this is truly the committment of VDSS and the Commonwealth as a whole, then you cannot continue to allow discriminatory policies that directly contradict this message and create barriers to achieving this goal.
Fostercare and Adoption are a major component of the child welfare/human service industry. An industry that is extremely costly to our local, state and federal government. Faith-based organizations recognize this and have greatly profitted in the business of delivering these services. They also recognize that removal of discriminatory practices means that they must make some choices about whether or not they can continue to be in this business if they will no longer be permitted to discriminate. That is their choice to make, but should not be allowed to be a determining factor in VDSS upholding its committment to provide safe, stable and loving families to the thousands of kids that await a home.
Please adopt policies that will prevent discrimination in our foster care and adoption practices so that all of Virginia's children are afforded the greatest opportunity to succeed.