Maryland Foster Agency Won’t Allow Muslim Mother To Foster A Child

con1Contemporary Family Services, a Maryland-based private foster agency that is “authorized by the state to place foster children with families,” has rejected the application of Tashima Crudup, a former foster child herself, to foster a child.

A social worker who visited Crudup reported that she was “accepting of religious practices other than their own” and was willing “to make arrangements to have a child attend the church of his or her own choice if so requested.” Nevertheless, Crudup’s application was rejected. Why? The agency expressed concern that Crudup does not keep pork in her house due to her Muslim faith:

Almost two decades ago, Tashima Crudup left her grandmother’s home and entered the city’s foster care system, where she learned firsthand what makes a good mother. As she shuffled from family to family beginning at age 8, Crudup encountered some attentive and loving foster parents, while others were unsupportive and constraining. “I always wanted to be a foster parent,” said the 26-year-old mother.

In July, Crudup — a practicing Muslim — contacted Contemporary Family Services, a private company authorized by the state to place foster children with families. She cleared an initial screening process and completed 50 hours of training classes for prospective parents. But after a home visit, her application was denied. The main reason: She doesn’t allow pork in her house.

In a letter addressed to Crudup, the company says that, although it respects her “personal/religious views and practices,” it also wants to “ensure that the religious, cultural and personal rights of each foster child” they place are upheld.

In an editorial, the Baltimore Sun responds, “There are thousands of kids across the state who desperately need stable homes and loving caretakers; that’s what foster care and adoption officials should be focusing on, not on which meat dish gets put on the table every night.”

The ACLU of Maryland, which has taken up Crudup’s case, is suing Contemporary Family Services and alleging anti-Muslim bias. “I have a hard time believing [the company] denies every vegetarian or Orthodox Jewish person a foster care license,” said Ajmel Quereshi, an attorney with the ACLU. The state’s Department of Human Resources (DHR), which gave the foster agency its contract to administer fostering services, has suggested that the company is violating the law. “The law does not permit the agency to make a determination solely on the type of food served in a home,” said DHR spokeswoman Nancy Lineman. (HT: Angry Mouse at DailyKos)