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Philadelphia Ends Foster-Care Program With Two Agencies That Refuse To Accept LGBT Parents

In October, a gay couple who approached Bethany Christian Services were turned away.

After learning two faith-based foster-care agencies refused to place children with LGBT people, Philadelphia's Department of Human Services has ended its relationship with both organizations.

On Thursday, DHS halted foster-care intake with Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Social Services, pending an investigation. Some 233 children already placed by the two agencies will remain in place, according to a spokesperson, but new placements will stop.

“Our goal is to minimize placement disruptions, and to ensure that a child’s ability to reunify with their family of origin or to continue an adoption process is not delayed because of a placement disruption.”

The decision follows a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer revealing the agencies would not work with LGBT people or same-sex couples interesting in fostering, despite receiving a combined $3 million in city funding.

In October, a gay Philly couple was turned away by Bethany Christian Services, which is currently facing a discrimination lawsuit in Michigan. Catholic Social Services told the Inquirer it also does not accept applications from LGBT people.

The two organizations, which have contracted with the city since the late 1990s, maintain their homophobic stance is protected because they're religiously affiliated. But unlike other states, Pennsylvania doesn't exempt faith-based foster-care and adoption agencies from state anti-discrimination laws.

Also on Thursday, the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution to investigate all 26 foster agencies that contract with DHS for possible bias.

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