An approved foster family in Tennessee was recently denied placement of a newborn in their home due to a state law that the foster parents say discriminates against their religious beliefs. Despite the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) struggling to find enough homes for children in their care – prompting lawmakers to recently approve $19 million in taxpayer dollars for the expansion of institutional space to house kids – the agency will not place children under the age of 18 months with this qualified family unless they abandon their religious convictions regarding vaccinations.
Gail Greene has a degree in Social Work and has experience working with underprivileged children either in state custody or at risk of being removed from their homes. Greene, a stay-at-home mom, along with her husband Derek and their five children, were thrilled when they received a phone call from a local DCS placement specialist at the end of June asking if Gail could pick up a five-day old baby from the hospital.
According to the DCS employee, there were no family members who could care for the child and DCS was having a difficult time finding placements for newborns because most people work and need childcare. Thinking that their religious exemption had waived the vaccine requirements pertaining to children under eighteen months, the Greenes accepted the placement and called on friends and family as they started gathering the necessary items for the baby.