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Protection from Discrimination in Child Welfare Activities

The child welfare system is a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families to care for their children successfully. While the primary responsibility for child welfare services rests with the states, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) supports the delivery of child welfare services through funding of programs and legislative initiatives.

OCR is responsible for enforcing civil rights laws that apply to state, local and federally funded child welfare agencies and courts.  These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex or age in the delivery of child welfare services:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) prohibits federally-funded state and local child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their race, color or national origin in the provision of benefits and services, which includes taking reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title II) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) prohibit state, local and federally funded child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of disability in the provision of child welfare services.

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) prohibits federally funded state and local child welfare agencies from discriminating  on the basis of sex (gender) in federally-assisted education programs.

  • The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (Age) prohibits state and local federally funded child welfare agencies and courts from discriminating against individuals on the basis of age.

  • The Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994 (MEPA), as amended by Section 1808(c) of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, prohibits state and local federally funded child welfare agencies from using a child’s or prospective parent’s race, color or national origin to deny or delay a child’s placement, and requires state agencies to recruit and retain foster, adoptive and kinship homes that reflect the diversity of children and youth in care.