News (USA)

Agency balks at allowing same-sex married couples to be foster parents

Agency balks at allowing same-sex married couples to be foster parents
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback Nicholas Clayton, Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas Department of Children and Families official said Friday that the state will continue to allow qualified single adults to serve as foster parents for abused and neglected children, but she said her agency isn’t ready to say whether it will allow married same-sex couples to do so.

The department has faced questions about its plans because it said earlier this month that it was conducting a broad review of foster care policies. Douglas County District Judge Peggy Carr Kittel wrote a regional DCF official, asking whether it planned to limit foster parenting to only married couples and how such a move would apply to same-sex couples, given the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage across the nation.

Theresa Freed, a spokeswoman for the child welfare agency, told The Associated Press that department officials “haven’t changed any foster care licensing policies.” The department did not issue a public statement.

“Single adults will not be excluded from being foster care parents,” Freed said. “That was never being considered.”

Before the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Kansas banned same-sex marriage and did not recognize such marriages from other states. Brownback has been a vocal supporter of the state’s ban.

But the state allowed gays and lesbians to serve as foster parents, as individuals.

The department began its review of foster care policies after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback this month transferred the licensing of foster homes to it from the Department of Health and Environment. DCF already had administered placements and services for foster children through two private contractors.

Kittel didn’t immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, the state’s leading gay-rights group, said the department’s refusal to comment on same-sex couples serving as foster parents shows that Brownback’s administration is “going to dig in its heels every step of the way to deny married couples their legal rights.”

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