One of the most controversial pieces of legislation in 2018 was the Adoption Protection Act. This proposal would prohibit negative consequences for child placement agencies that refused services due to sincerely held religious beliefs. Proponents of this bill believed this was a way to protect child placement organizations. Some opponents thought is was a form of discrimination. For our part the KBA opposed this proposal based on the best interest of the child standard.
See also; https://www.ksn.com/news/local/adoption-protection-act-on-the-way-in-kansas/1185939381
This bill, originally introduced as HB 2687 and SB 401, initially failed to make it out of committee. However, it was attached on the Senate floor to a more benign proposal offered by the Kansas Judicial Council. The Judicial Council bill updated adoption and relinquishment provisions while the Adoption Protection Act protected child placement agencies with sincerely held religious beliefs. This combined bill can be found under SB 284. This combined bill was able to garner 63 House votes in what was one of the longer non-budget debates.
The Adoption Protection Act states, notwithstanding any other provision of state law and to the extent allowed by federal law, no child placement agency (CPA), as defined by the bill, shall be required to perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or otherwise participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement of such child violates such CPA’s sincerely held religious beliefs.
The bill also prohibits taking the following actions against a CPA, if taken solely because of the CPA’s objection to providing any of the services described above on the grounds of such religious beliefs:
- Denial of a license, permit, or other authorization, denial of renewal of the same, or revocation or suspension of the same by any state agency or political subdivision;
- Denial of participation in any program operated by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) in which CPAs can participate;
- Denial of reimbursement for performing foster care placement or adoption services on behalf of an entity that has a contract with DCF as a case management contractor; or
- Imposition of a civil fine or other adverse administrative action or any claim or cause of action under any state or local law.
The bill requires the CPA’s sincerely held religious beliefs to be specified in the CPA’s organizing documents, written policies, or such other written document approved by the governing body of the CPA.
The provisions of the bill do not apply to any entity while the entity has a contract with DCF as a case management contractor.
The Kansas Department of Children and Families contracts with two case management contractors, KVC Health Systems and St. Francis Community Services. These case management contractors then work independently with child placement agencies, some of which limit placement options based on the agency’s sincerely held religiously belief.
It has been recently reported that the Department of Child and Families will begin offering contracts to child placement agencies directly, effectively circumventing both case management contractors that are exempt from the Adoption Protection Act. See; https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article214966725.html.