About the Every Child Deserves a Family Act
What does it do?
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) would prohibit federally-funded child welfare service providers from discriminating against children, families, and individuals because of their religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status. It also ensures that children and youth in foster care receive the identity-affirming, culturally competent care they deserve.
In other words, the ECDF Act ensures that no taxpayer-funded foster care or adoption agency can turn away qualified prospective parents or mistreat youth in foster care because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe.
Why does it matter?
With 440,000 children in US foster care and more than 20,000 aging out of care every year, there’s an urgent need for safe, loving, qualified homes for youth in care. But in many states, it’s still legal to turn away qualified prospective parents just because they are LGBTQ+ or of a religious minority—despite the fact that LGBTQ+ parents are seven times more likely than non-LGBTQ+ parents to foster or adopt children. By banning discrimination in child welfare, the ECDF Act increases the number of foster and adoptive homes available to youth in foster care, so that they may receive the best possible chance at finding a safe, loving home.
But that’s not all.
1 in 5 youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+, meaning that there’s an overrepresentation of LGBTQ+ youth in care—often because they’ve already been rejected by their family for their identity. Failing to access identity-affirming services or getting placed with families who explicitly reject their identities result in these young people reporting much higher rates of mistreatment in the foster care system than their non-LGBTQ counterparts, and they often have worse outcomes. In fact, according to the American Association of Pediatrics, even having discriminatory laws against LGBTQ+ youth in place has proven to be “harmful to [their] social-emotional health and may have lifelong consequences.”
By requiring federally-funded child welfare services and staff training to be affirming of youth in care’s complex social identities, ensuring that they find families that mirror or accept their identities, and requiring data collection on LGBTQ+ youth in care, the ECDF act promotes the wellbeing and safety of children and youth in foster care.
How can you help?
Join over 500 major child welfare, health, faith, and civil rights organizations, associations, and advocates in this fight to end discrimination in child welfare by signing our pledge, calling your Congress member, or sharing your story!