Skip to main content

On day of Catholic Charities settlement, MDHHS announces new task force to support LGBTQ+ families who want to adopt or foster children


CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced today it is forming a task force within the department to support LGBTQ+ families who want to foster or adopt children.

The announcement comes as MDHHS signed a settlement agreement today that ends a lawsuit filed by Catholic Charities West Michigan, a private child welfare agency challenging the department's non-discrimination policy. The settlement mirrors a settlement agreement in January with St. Vincent Catholic Charities of Lansing and comes following a unanimous Supreme Court decision.

"MDHHS recognizes, values, affirms, and appreciates the significant contributions made by the LGBTQ+ families caring for children in foster care and those choosing to adopt," said Demetrius Starling, executive director of the department's Children's Services Agency. "We cannot do this work without them. For this reason, the department has begun creating the MiFamily Advancement and Leadership for LGBTQ+ Youth (ALLY) and families task force comprised of LGBTQ+ persons, allies and child welfare experts to determine how best to support LGBTQ+ families interested in becoming foster and adoptive parents."

The task force will assess how the child welfare system supports LGBTQ+ families, engage the LGBTQ+ community and learn from their perspectives, and make recommendations for how the department can best serve these families.

"Although the outcome in these court cases is not what we hoped for, we are committed to providing support to the many members in the LGBTQ+ community who foster and adopt," Starling said.

Peter Spadafore and Dr. Stacie Gibson will co-chair the task force. Spadafore serves on the Lansing City Council and is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Gibson is the director of the Office of Workforce Development and Training for MDHHS. She is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Other members of the task force will be announced soon. The task force's work is expected to be completed by fall 2022.

MDHHS's commitment to welcoming and supporting LGBTQ+ families as valued foster and adoptive parents remains a top priority. The department intends to expand its support for LGBTQ+ families who want to become foster or adoptive parents as part of the department's ongoing work to find loving homes for every child in foster care.

"This new task force speaks to MDHHS's commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ families," said Attorney General Dana Nessel. "Every child deserves a loving and nurturing forever family, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact this announcement will ultimately have on our child welfare system."

MDHHS is committed to preserving families and reunifying them when it is safe. About 10,500 children are in foster care in Michigan and approximately 2,100 have a goal of adoption, with about 220 children still waiting for an adoptive family to be identified.

# # #