A 34-page report by the House Ways and Means Committee has been released, in which the Trump administration is accused of intentionally harming LGBTQ+ Americans by discriminating against queer families in federally-supported foster care programs.
“Children at Risk: The Trump Administration’s Waiver of Foster Care Nondiscrimination Requirements” claims that, by allowing South Carolina’s government-funded foster and adoption agencies to turn away LGBTQ+ parents, the Presidential administration has violated a congressional mandate to act in the best interest of children. The Ways and Means Committee’s report comes on the heels of the Supreme Court announcing it will hear oral arguments on whether government-funded foster and adoption agencies can discriminate against LGBTQ+ parents on November 4th.
The issue discussed in the 34-page document, however, comes from a waiver from anti-discrimination policy that was granted to South Carolina. In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allowed the state to be exempt from a long-held policy that “barred states from distributing federal funds to child welfare service providers that discriminated against potential foster parents, including discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” South Carolina’s governor requested the waiver on behalf of Miracle Hill, a religious organization that “recruits foster parents and rejects other prospective foster parents exclusively based on religious status and sexual orientation.”
As soon as the waiver was implemented, two Democratic congressmen — Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis and then-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight John Lewis — launched an investigation. In “Children at Risk: The Trump Administration’s Waiver of Foster Care Nondiscrimination Requirements,” the Ways and Means Committee calls on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revoke the 2019 waiver.
“As subsequent Trump Administration actions confirm, HHS is using the South Carolina waiver as a harmful precedent beyond child welfare, essentially using vulnerable foster youth as test cases for its discriminatory policies across all HHS services,” reads the report.
The report points to the waiver as being inappropriately issued to create a policy that “intentionally harms LGBTQ children, adults, and families.” Rejections by the agency were not just issued to LGBTQ+ families, but Jewish families and Catholic families as well.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said “Children at Risk: The Trump Administration’s Waiver of Foster Care Nondiscrimination Requirements” points out this waiver as evidence of a “pattern of discrimination.”
“The Trump Administration has repeatedly sought to limit the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ Americans,” said Neal in a statement. “I hope that the findings and recommendations in this new report will lead to the withdrawal of the South Carolina waiver and ensure that in the future, federal foster care funds are used in the best interest of young people, not to enable discrimination.”