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Michigan health department creates taskforce to support LGBTQ+ families wanting to foster or adopt

Cecilie Johnsen

Updated on March 7 at 9:58 a.m. ET

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is launching a taskforce to support LGBTQ+ parents who want to foster or adopt children.

The creation of the task force follows settlements between MDHHS and private charities, which challenged the department’s non-discrimination policy.

In a press release, MDHHS noted a unanimous 2021 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing private agencies in Philadelphia to deny adoptions to LGBTQ+ couples due to religious reasons.

Lansing City Councilmember Peter Spadafore serves as the co-chair of the taskforce. He says the goal is to remove barriers for LGBTQ+ families and individuals as they navigate the child welfare system in the state of Michigan.

“It's important that we find ways to make sure that the state makes it as easy as possible to place children in those homes, if there's qualified individuals looking to find a home for children," he said.

According to Spadafore, no child should be denied a safe and loving home just because of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the potential caretakers.

"That just makes me sick to my stomach to think that there's someone who's willing to give a loving home to a child and they've been denied that ability," he added.

The taskforce is hoping to help the state health department hear from individuals and couples who have had these experiences.

"We want them to help shape policy to try and make sure that doesn't happen to as many people as possible so that we can find those homes for children," he said.

Rachel Willis oversees foster care and adoption for the state. She says these families face unique challenges when working with child welfare agencies.

“Concerns about access to services, and perhaps fear that once a family has been vocal about their gender identity status, or their sexual orientation, that they may be treated differently," she said.

Willis says the group is hoping to present its recommendations to the public in the coming months.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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