State Board Reopens Adoption Comment Period
From Equality Virginia:
Equality Virginia Applauds State Board of Social Services for Allowing Public More Time to Comment on Adoption Proposals
RICHMOND, VA – Equality Virginia today applauded the Virginia State Board of Social Services for voting to allow the public 30 days to comment on its decision to strip legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability, political beliefs and family status from final rules governing state-licensed adoption and foster care agencies.
Equality Virginia released the following statement from James Parrish, Executive Director, about the Board’s action:
We are grateful that the State Board of Social Services granted the petitions filed by Equality Virginia and more than 25 other Virginia citizens requesting 30 days of time to comment on the Board’s April decision that allows Virginia’s state-licensed child placing agencies to discriminate against prospective adoptive and foster care parents, the 1,500 children waiting for a loving forever home and the 6,000 more children in foster care. We are glad that the Board agreed that changes to its proposed rules that will make it okay for single people and married couples and the children they seek to provide homes for to be denied services by state-licensed agencies based solely on their age, religion, gender, disability, political beliefs, family status, or sexual orientation are neither “minor” nor “inconsequential.”
Equality Virginia believes that discrimination based on age, religion, gender, disability, political beliefs, family status, or sexual orientation (the bases stripped from the final rules) should have no place in the decision by the state or its licensed agencies whether to provide adoption or foster care services to children or to prospective loving parents. We urge all Virginians who share this belief to take advantage of the opportunity that the State Board has provided and make your views known during the public comment period.
The proposed rules, which were amended by the Board in April and approved for publication in final form, were approved for publication as proposed rules by the current administration early in 2010. Days before the proposed rules were due to come before the Board for its final okay, Governor McDonnell expressed a preference for keeping the nondiscrimination rule unchanged (banning only discrimination based on race, national origin and ethnicity), and the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services placed that recommendation before the Board in a closed session.
As published in proposed form, Section 22 VAC 40-131-170 B. of the new standards for licensed child placing agencies said that such an agency licensed by the state shall
prohibit acts of discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status to: 1. Delay or deny a child’s placement; or 2. Deny an individual the opportunity to apply to become a foster or adoptive parent.
After the Board’s action in April, the final rules only prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin and ethnicity.
Today’s action by the Board was taken on petitions filed on May 17, 2010 by more than 25 Virginians asking the Board to reopen public comment on the changes to the proposed rules for an additional 30 days. Section 2.2-4007.06 of the Administrative Process Act provides that “[i]f one or more changes with substantial impact are made to a proposed regulation from the time that it is published as a proposed regulation to the time it is published as a final regulation, any person may petition the agency within 30 days from the publication of the final regulation to request an opportunity for oral and written submittals on the changes to the regulation.” The statute provides further that the agency is required to accede to this request if it receives similar requests from at least 25 persons unless it determines that the changes were “minor” or “inconsequential.”
Photo credit HRC
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