Is Faith a Factor in Child Placement?

State code for child-placing agencies often considers religious preference as a factor in making those placements, which must be done in the best interests of the child

One Virginia Code provision prohibits a state or local government from denying a private child-placing agency a contract because of the agency’s objection to participating in a placement that violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies (Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-1709.3. Child-placing agencies; conscience clause). 

This is particularly interesting because it seems it would apply to the executive order recently issued by Governor McAuliffe. The order bans state contracts with firms that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The policy applies to executive branch contracts, but not those entered into by the legislature or courts. The Virginia Department of Social Services is included in the executive branch, and would likely be subject to that order.

This is an important and interesting inconsistency in policy between the executive and the legislature about religious liberties.

Whether the Governor’s order limits faith-based child-placing agencies is still unclear in light of this contradiction, regardless of whether policy makers think faith is a positive aspect of child rearing or not.

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