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Philadelphia Bans Catholic Agency From Placing Foster Kids with Christian Families


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A Philadelphia judge heard oral arguments Monday in a case that bans a Catholic foster care agency from placing children in families with religious convictions.

According to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing families in the case, the 'city's harmful new policy keeps foster children from loving homes.'

The group has posted several stories from clients in the case on its Facebook page.

"Sharonell Fulton has fostered more than 40 children over 25 years," reads one post page. She currently cares for two young siblings with special needs and she couldn't provide a safe and loving home without the ongoing support of Catholic Social Services." 

Becket pointed out that in March the city issued an urgent call for 300 new foster parents to provide loving homes to the more than 6,000 kids in the city's foster care system.

That same month, the city also barred Catholic Social Services, CSS, one of the city's top-rated foster agencies, from placing children with Catholic or Christian foster parents because the city disagrees with the agency's policy of not placing kids in same-sex households.

Cecelia Paul, another foster parent at the heart of the case says, "Caring for children in need is my life's work. I used to be a nurse at a children's hospital, and that same desire to help children inspired me to become a foster parent. I've been working with Catholic Social Services to care for children for over 40 years, and I have fostered 133 children. The City of Philadelphia has even awarded me as an Outstanding Parent of the Year. Yet now, the City won't let me care for any more foster children because I work with an agency that shares my faith. The City's actions have left my home empty, and I have felt lost without being able to continue my life's work."

The new policy makes it harder for hundreds of children in need of foster care to find homes.

Fulton and several other foster families targeted by the policy are expected to testify in court. They, along with Catholic Social Services, are asking that the policy be overturned and that kids be placed in loving homes.

Meanwhile, CSS says it has never been approached by a gay couple interested in fostering kids.

Attorneys from The Becket Fund were unavailable for an interview for comment at the time of publication.

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