The parent agency of Michigan’s Children’s Services Agency recently announced that it’s putting a task force together, in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, to figure out the best way to support LGBTQ families who would like to foster or adopt children.
“We cannot do this work without them,” said Demetrius Starling, the agency’s executive director, in a statement issued March 2. Children’s Services is a division of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The announcement came on the same day the department settled a lawsuit with a private child welfare agency, Catholic Charities of Michigan — a settlement that mirrors a January deal with St. Vincent Catholic Charities of Lansing — and follows a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in December in a similar case out of Pennsylvania. The private charities had sued the state, challenging the department’s non-discrimination policy.
The charities had religious objections to being required to provide foster and adoption services to LGBTQ families and youth in order to receive federal funds to support their work.
“Although the outcome in these court cases is not what we hoped for,” Starling said, “we are committed to providing support to the many members in the LGBTQ+ community who foster and adopt.”
Starling added that the Children’s Services Agency has long recognized the role LGBTQ families play in the child welfare system. “For this reason, the department has begun creating the MiFamily Advancement and Leadership for LGBTQ+ Youth (ALLY) and families task force comprised of LGBTQ+ persons, allies and child welfare experts to determine how best to support LGBTQ+ families interested in becoming foster and adoptive parents.”
Two prominent members of the LGBTQ community — Lansing City Council Member Peter Spadafore and Stacie Gibson, director of the Office of Workforce Development and Training for the Health and Human Services Department — will co-chair the task force.