About the Every Child Deserves a Family Act
Foster youth explain why Congress must pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.
Congressman and civil rights champion John Lewis continues to spearhead efforts to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act by sharing his story with NBC News.
What is the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF)?
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.
ECDF requires federally funded child welfare services and staff training to be affirming of foster children’s complex social identities, including their race, color, national origin, ability, religion, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, as currently required for runaway and homeless youth.
Why is ECDF Necessary?
Permanency for At-Risk Youth: There are more than 440,000 children in our foster care system, 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.
Culturally Competent Care: The American Association of Pediatrics warns that policies singling out or discriminating against LGBTQ youth “are harmful to social-emotional health and may have lifelong consequences.” The Center for the Study of Social Policy has found that LGBTQ children “are disproportionately involved with child welfare and experience worse outcomes than their peers due to trauma they often experience while in state care.”
Who Supports ECDF?
Major Child Welfare, Health, Faith, and Civil Rights Organizations, Associations, and Advocates Support ECDF. Over 500 of these organizations and individuals have joined the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign, which opposes discrimination in foster care and adoption, promotes affirming care for all foster youth, and acts to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act.