Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation: Practice Models from the States. Policy Context


PRWORAs Charitable Choice provisions were developed to level the playing field for FBOs as they compete with other service providers for funding from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The main provisions of Charitable Choice were subsequently expanded to additional federal programs through legislation and executive orders, including a 2002 executive order (13279) that extended equal treatment principles to all federally funded social services to the extent allowed by law. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations addressing the application of Charitable Choice to several of its programs. The statutes, executive orders, and regulations stipulated that FBOs funded by most federal programs are not required to remove religious art or symbols and may retain religious standards for organizational governance and hiring (unless prohibited by program statute). Those receiving direct government funding may not use these funds for inherently religious activities, such as religious instruction, worship, or proselytizing  nor may they discriminate against clients based on their religion or require their participation in religious activities. Under Charitable Choice law, the responsible public funding agency is also required to ensure that clients objecting to the religious nature of the provider are offered an alternative provider to which they do not object on religious grounds. These provisions have opened up eligibility for public grant or contracting partnerships to some religious organizations that, prior to Charitable Choice, would have been ineligible. Over time, court cases and evolving federal policy guidance have further shaped the legal environment in which FCLs operate and in which the faith-based and community initiatives have developed. FCLs have also been working to implement Charitable Choice within differing state circumstances and resources.

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