There are more than 440,000 children in our foster care system nationwide, with over 120,000 of them waiting for a permanent family. More than 20,000 youth “age out” of care each year without any family and with limited support and resources. To address this problem, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) was recently introduced in Congress - by Rep. John Lewis in the House and Sen. Gillibrand in the Senate.
ECDF is a federal bill that promotes the best interests of children by increasing the number of foster and adoptive homes available to all foster children and improving services to LGBTQ and religious minority foster children. ECDF does so by prohibiting federally funded child welfare service providers from discriminating against children, families, and individuals based on religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status.
ECDF bans conversion therapy for children receiving or participating in federally funded child welfare programs or services. It promotes the well-being, safety and permanency of, and culturally competent care for, the 1 in 5 foster children who identify as LGBTQ and suffer greater rates of mistreatment and worse outcomes than non-LGBTQ foster youth. It does so by increasing access to best practices, resources, and technical assistance to states, tribes, and service providers, and by requiring data collection on LGBTQ foster youth and parents.
PFP Director Stephanie Haynes recently had an opinion piece printed in the Philly Inquirer on the topic and the Philly Gay News covered the introduction of the bill on June 20th.
PFP is a proud member of the coalition supporting ECDF led by Family Equality. Director Stephanie Haynes and board member Tariem Burroughs recently got to speak to Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey about the bill (pictured) and look forward to meeting with other local members of Congress to ask for their support.
Contact your member of Congress to ask for their support by clicking here.
Working with the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs, PFP has held eight information sessions over the past couple of years to help recruit LGBTQ adults and other affirming communities to become foster parents, especially for LGBTQ youth.
Our next two recruitment events are set for Monday, March 11th at the Lovett Library in Mt. Airy and on Thursday, April 18th at the William Way Center in Center City. Both will be held from 6-8pm. Representatives from DHS and foster care agencies will be present with information on requirements, training and licensing process. In addition, we’ll have a panel of current LGBTQ foster parents and former foster youth speak about their experiences and answer questions from the audience.
PFP board member Leigh Braden is putting together a support group for LGBTQ foster parents that will start meeting later this year. If you are a licensed foster parent, please fill out this questionnaire to give us your input on how you’d like the group to run, when it will meet, etc.
In an effort to improve the foster care system as a whole, PFP is proud to sponsor a Speaker Series this spring on Best Practices for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care. At the first session, an audience of about 100 people heard from a panel of LGBTQ foster youth. (Pictured)
The next speaker in the series will be Shauna Lucadamo, the LGBTQ Affairs Project Manager from Allegheny County DHS. That talk is scheduled for Thursday, March 14th from 2:00-3:30pm at the University of the Sciences. CLE and CEU credits are available. Register at this link.
PFP Executive Director Stephanie Haynes serves on the Philadelphia Youth Residential Placement Task Force and has attended several meetings this spring to help the group come up with recommendations on ways to improve the safety and education of youth in placement as well as alternatives. Stephanie’s role is to ensure the needs and voices of LGBTQ youth are included in the discussion and the solutions offered.
There’s no new update yet, but in case you missed it in 2018, PFP is represented by the ACLU as an intervenor in the Fulton vs. City of Philadelphia lawsuit involving Catholic Social Services. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals heard the plaintiff’s appeal in November of 2018. We are awaiting their ruling.
Finally, PFP is working with the national LGBTQ family group Family Equality Council to respond to the Trump Administration’s directive from HHS to a foster care agency in South Carolina, allowing them to discriminate based on religion when serving foster parents.
In response to that directive, PFP has assisted FEC in getting Pennsylvania members of Congress to sign on to letters to HHS Secretary Azar opposing this move. Sen. Casey signed the letter from Senators and Reps. Dean and Scanlon signed the House letter.
Now the House Ways and Means Committee is going to be holding hearings about the actions of HHS. Philadelphia Congressmen Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle are on the committee, so want to make sure they get written testimony from Philadelphians on the importance of an inclusive, non-discriminatory foster care system. PFP will be submitting testimony, but if you have a positive or negative story to share about your experience, please share it with FEC here.
Philadelphia Family Pride denounces the hateful rhetoric targeting our families in Representative Daryl
Metcalfe’s letter to Governor Tom Wolf in January 2018.
Rep. Metcalfe’s demand, signed on to by 24 of his colleagues, that birth certificates issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania be changed to specify “Mother” and “Father” instead of the current “Parent/Parent” language serves no practical purpose other than to discriminate against families such as those that comprise Philadelphia Family Pride and other families around the commonwealth.
Birth certificates play a central role in identifying and recognizing who has the legal rights to make decisions for a child and U.S. Supreme Court decisions clearly establish that same-sex couples have equal rights with respect to their children’s birth certificates as opposite-sex couples. Insisting that gendered terminology be used to describe those parents is a waste of the Commonwealth’s time and resources.
Our families are diverse and varied, and the birth certificates of their children should reflect that what matters to our children is the love and support that are what truly makes a family, not the gender of their parents. Philadelphia Family Pride calls on Governor Wolf and other representatives to speak out against these attacks on our families and our children and applauds the steps already taken to ensure that our families are recognized on these important legal documents.
You can find your state representatives here.
Contact Gov. Wolf here.
Philly Family Pride, along with Equality Pennsylvania, the William Way LGBT Community Center and Philadelphia FIGHT sent the attached letter to all members of Philadelphia City Council on May 17, 2016, urging their support of Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed sugary drinks tax of $.03/ounce.
This revenue would expand preK programs for Philadelphia’s underserved children, fund improvements in parks and recreation centers in the city, and pay for proposed community schools, and more.
As William Way’s Executive Director testified to on May 18, 2016 in front of Council:
“Though on the face of it universal pre-K may not seem like a top issue for LGBT citizens, I have made the case to the LGBT community and its allies that the fate of our educational system is the most pressing issue for LGBT citizens, and all Philadelphians. Universal pre-K will help to level the playing field so that LGBT children, and particularly LGBT children of color, have improved opportunities for their education and thus for their success in society.”
In Chris’ written testimony, he also talked about the importance of the programs to LGBTQ parents and our children.
Please contact City Council and urge them to support this measure. Thank you!
Letter to City Council from LGBTQ groups supporting the Sugary Drinks Tax