Philadelphia’s Human Services ends foster care placements through Catholic agency

PHILADELPHIA — The city of Philadelphia has announced that its Department of Human Services has “ceased new foster care child intakes” with Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia because Catholic teaching does not allow the agency to place foster children with same-sex couples.

“Given its affiliation with the archdiocese, CSS cannot provide services in any manner or setting that would violate its institutional integrity, core values and Catholic beliefs,” said Kenneth A. Gavin, the archdiocese’s chief communications officer.

The March 15 decision followed reports in The Inquirer and Daily News media outlets that the agencies “will not work with the LGBTQ community and same-sex couples.”

But Catholic Social Services’ policy that it cannot place children with same-sex couples because of church teaching is a fact that “is well-established and long-known one in our relationship with DHS,” Gavin said in a statement he emailed to Catholic News Service late March 19.

“Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CSS) recognizes the vital importance of the foster care program in our city and is proud to provide safe and nurturing foster environments to young people in need,” he said.

“Given the long-standing partnership between CSS and the city, we hope to continue our productive relationship with the city of Philadelphia to serve those among us in need,” he added.

“At is core,” Gavin said, Catholic Social Services is “an institution founded on faith based-principles.”

“The Catholic Church does not endorse same-sex unions based upon deeply held religious beliefs and principles. As such, CSS would not be able to consider foster care placement within the context of a same-sex union,” he said.

Gavin also explained that the Catholic agency does not receive referrals from Department of Human Services “directly for adoptive couples.”

“Outreach and advertising that CSS initiates on its own regarding foster care opportunities indicates that foster care settings can at times lead to adoption,” he explained. “The city’s Department of Human Services asks CSS to find foster placement for young people and CSS finds those families on its own.”

He also said that the agency does not inquire “about the sexual identity or orientation of the young people it serves. It provides foster care services to those who need such assistance regardless of their background. That’s important to note as it is also a deeply held religious belief for us to provide care for all those in need with dignity, charity, and respect.”

The city’s decision also affects foster care services provided by Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit that operates in 36 states. All of its centers provide adoption and pregnancy counseling, family counseling, assistance to refugees and immigrants, and other services; some of its centers handle foster care placements.