12 July 2011

DCFS refuses to allow Catholic Charities to place a child from another agency

In light of the recent legal suit between Catholic Charities and the State of Illinois, the final sentence of a story in the State Journal-Register ought to be a story in itself.

An unnamed agency has a child to place in a foster home but does not have foster parents available at this time.  The agency sought to place the child through Catholic Charities, who does have foster parents available at this very moment to receive the child, but the Department of Child and Family Services refused to allow Catholic Charities to place the child, even after a Sangamon County judge ruled the State cannot end its contracts with Catholic Charities until the requested declaratory judgment is given.

This should be an outrage to people of all good will.  It clearly shows that DCFS and the State of Illinois is not truly concerned with the welfare of children but only with their own political ideology.

The text of the updated article follows, with my emphases and comments:

Catholic Charities programs in Illinois won a preliminary injunction Tuesday preventing the state from canceling its foster care contracts with the agencies [Notice: the State attempted to cancel its contracts with Catholic Charities; the State made the first move].

"I'm putting a freeze on this case until we can (argue) the issues," Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt said. "We're not going to be removing children from homes."

Schmidt said he was returning the situation to what it was on June 30, before the Department of Children and Family Services terminated contracts it held with Catholic Charities in Springfield, Joliet, Peoria and Belleville.

A total of 1,997 children have been placed in foster homes through the four agencies.

Schmidt scheduled another hearing on the case for Aug. 17.

DCFS terminated foster care contracts it had with Catholic Charities in the four dioceses because the agencies had made it clear they would not place foster children in the homes of couples who are in civil unions, which became legal in Illinois June 1 [Catholic Charities has not placed children in the homes of cohabiting couples and has never had to do so].

Catholic Charities said its position is a matter of religious principle. Representatives say Catholic Charities does not place children in the homes of any unmarried couples.

"This restores some hope for us continuing our relationship with the state," said Steven Roach, executive director for Catholic Charities of the Springfield Diocese [though the final sentence of this article suggests the State is unwilling to work with Catholic Charities].

Attorneys for Catholic Charities have argued that a clause in the law allows religious organizations not to recognize civil unions if it conflicts with their religious beliefs [Curiously, this clause has not been quoted yet in an article; I suppose it's easier to ignore the actual law.  The clause states: "Nothing in this Act shall interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious body."  That seems pretty straight forward].

“It is the state of Illinois that is violating this provision of the law by seeking to force us to act against our religious principles,” said Springfield Bishop Thomas John Paprocki in a statement.

Assistant Attorney General Deborah Barnes argued that the state isn't forcing the agencies to accept state contracts [but the State has tried to refuse to honor its contracts].

"The government isn't compelling them to take these contracts," Barnes said. "The state has chosen not to renew voluntary contracts. Contracts are not renewed automatically."

Catholic Charities lawyers said the contracts require 30 days notice of cancellation, which did not happen.

Barnes said children placed in Catholic Charities foster homes are not at risk.

"These children are not going to be ripped out of homes," she said. "The facts show no emergency."

Roach, though, said his organization was approached by another agency because it needed to place a child in a foster home and had none available. Catholic Charities was able to arrange a placement, Roach said, but DCFS refused to allow it.
Why is this line sentence not a front page story in and of itself?

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