Friday, November 19, 2021

HHS Rescinds Trump Era Religious Exemptions For Child Welfare Agencies In Three States

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is rescinding waivers of non-discrimination requirements issued during the Trump Administration to South Carolina, Texas and Michigan, along with certain child welfare agencies in those states. The waivers allowed faith-based foster care placement agencies to receive federal funds even though they select foster parents on the basis of religion. (See prior posting.) In its release yesterday, HHS summarized the background for its action:

Through these waivers, States and child welfare agencies – including States and organizations that did not make such requests - were granted exemptions from program nondiscrimination requirements in a rule that was not in effect. In taking today's actions, HHS is reestablishing its long-standing Department practice of evaluation of religious exemptions and modifications of program requirements on a case-by-case basis, as needed, and as is required by law—which was unprecedently changed in 2017 by the previous Administration. Today, HHS reaffirms its important commitment to core American values:  HHS will not condone the blanket use of religious exemptions against any person or blank checks to allow discrimination against any persons, importantly including LGBTQ+ persons in taxpayer-funded programs.