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Michigan Health Department Forms New Task Force To Support LGBTQ+ Families Wanting To Adopt, Foster

(CBS Detroit) -- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced it is developing a new task force supporting LGBTQ+ families who are interested in adopting or fostering children.

State officials say the task force will assess how the child welfare system is supporting LGBTQ+ families, engage in the community and make recommendations for how MDHHS can best serve those families.

The department signed a settlement agreement Tuesday ending a lawsuit filed by Catholic Charities West Michigan. The settlement mirrored the settlement agreement in January with St. Vincent Catholic Charities of Lansing. At that time, the department said a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court against Philadelphia is binding on the state and limits its ability to enforce a non-discrimination policy under certain circumstances.

Shortly after the Supreme Court's decision, MDHHS said it planned to expand support to LGBTQ+ families and further build on its engagement.

"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 be managed by Peter Spadafore and Dr. Stacie Gibson, both members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Spadafore is a member of the Lansing City Council and Gibson is director of the Office of Workforce Development and Training for MDHHS.

"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."

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