Allow faith-based agencies to take part in foster care

U.S. Supreme Court

My family has been a Catholic Social Services foster family for over 20 years — life-changing, amazing years. In that time — and with the support and guidance of this Catholic foster agency — we have been blessed with the opportunity to unconditionally love and support over 50 children in need of a home.

Each time we received a call to take in a child, we accepted the challenge with joy. We knew we were being asked to help stabilize a broken situation that had become an emergency. Never were we fearful of the charge to help as a foster parent. If the situation became challenging, Catholic Social Services was always immediately available to support and provide guidance. Catholic Social Services’ dedicated staff and institutional knowledge are unmatched in the foster care system. To Catholic Social Services’ case workers, foster care is more than a job — it is a calling. That’s why they go above and beyond to support families and help children. When necessary, we could count on our case workers to accompany us to doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher conferences and even one of our child’s jazz recitals. In addition to supporting us, Catholic Social Services has guided many of the biological parents of our foster children through difficult circumstances — abuse, drug addictions, mental health disabilities, poverty — aiding in reunification with their children whenever possible.

Catholic Social Services’ support has had an advantageous impact on our family. All of my children — those we have fostered, those we have adopted and my two biological children — have learned, grown and struggled at various times because of our decision to foster and adopt. But we have all become better for it. My children are more considerate, they are quick to share their time and their talents to help others in need, and they care deeply about helping others in their community. They can also count on the unconditional love of their extended family — my entire family — which they know also includes Catholic Social Services’ team.

This is why I’m a proud Catholic Social Services foster and adoptive parent. The work this agency does has an important impact on communities that are in dire need of their service. When I learned that city officials sought to shut down Catholic Social Services, I was distraught. There are so many children who desperately need the love and support of both Catholic Social Services and the foster families — like mine — who partner with this amazing agency.

I have been fortunate to have had the support of the Catholic Social Services community for over 20 years. Catholic Social Services, as a highly respected ministry of the Catholic Church, has been negatively targeted by city officials. By doing this, they have denied children the chance to be placed in the homes of loving and supportive families who have stepped up to help.

This fall, in Fulton v. Philadelphia, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to protect Catholic Social Services and the foster parents it serves, ensuring that faith-based agencies are allowed to participate in foster care. I could not imagine our own foster care journey without Catholic Social Services. With them, we were able to respond to a call to love, and to give over 50 children a necessary rescue, a helping hand and a time to heal. No one seeking to provide this service should be denied the opportunity. ••

Sandra R. Bryant-Miller is a Catholic Social Services foster parent.