Amid the news of rising coronavirus cases and continued social tensions last week, President Trump quietly signed an executive order aimed at improving the child welfare system nationwide. The order, which Trump signed in the Oval Office June 24 without media present, aims at several strategies to alleviate the burden on state foster care systems, including an improved partnership between state agencies and faith-based organizations.
“Every child deserves a family,” the executive order reads. “Our states and communities have both a legal obligation, and the privilege, to care for our Nation’s most vulnerable children.
“Too many young people who are in our foster care system wait years before finding the permanency of family. More than 400,000 children are currently in foster care. Of those, more than 124,000 children are waiting for adoption.”
The order encourages “robust partnerships between state agencies and public, private, faith-based and community organizations.” In order to facilitate such close partnerships, the order directs HHS secretary Alex Azar to “provide increased public access to accurate, up-to-date information relevant to strengthening the child welfare system.” Also, the secretary will “issue guidance to federal, state and local agencies on partnering with nongovernmental organizations” and “make clear that faith-based organizations are eligible for partnerships under” federal law.
Franklin Graham took to Twitter to thank the president for the order: “This week @realDonaldTrump signed a new executive order to improve the foster care system and strengthen partnerships between state agencies and faith-based organizations. Thank you @POTUS for caring about families and children.”
In addition to strengthening the relationship between state agencies and faith-based organizations, the order seeks improved access to adequate resources for caregivers and youth in ways such as expanding educational options, increasing the availability of trauma-informed training, supporting guardianship and enhancing support for kinship care and youth exiting foster care.
Faith-based groups praised the order.
“Faith-based organizations are on the front lines serving children and families, and this new set of policies recognizes the value of these organizations by encouraging stronger public-private partnerships,” said Chelsea Sobolik, a policy director for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, in written comments. “Every child deserves a safe, permanent and loving family, and I’m grateful for every step toward achieving that goal.”