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Turning down a helping hand

Apparently, there are no kids in Baltimore City who need foster care.

Apparently, everyone is very well taken care of, and the city doesn’t need good-hearted people willing to come forward and take care of children who have been abused or neglected.  Apparently, everything is just rosy in the city.

That’s the only possible explanation for rejecting the application of a good-hearted woman who only wants to help care for children in foster care the way she was once helped. It was her attempt to give back in a way that obviously has a lot of meaning for her.

But, the problem with her application seems to be that she is Muslim.

Last week, the Daily Record reported that the ACLU of Maryland is helping Tashima Crudup, a Muslim woman, to file a complaint with the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission. The offending (and potentially offensive, though I’m trying to keep my outrage in check) entity is Contemporary Family Services, a private agency that the State of Maryland uses to certify foster families.

According to the ACLU, Ms. Crudup’s application was denied because she does not allow pork products in her home. It seems that Contemporary Family Services also asked inappropriate questions (with no foundation) about whether Ms. Crudup’s husband would take another wife. All the facts given so far point to clear discrimination.

Can Contemporary Family Services’ refusal be justified?  Here’s what the ACLU of Maryland says:

According to CFS’s written denial, the sole ground for the denial is Crudup’s “explicit request to prohibit pork products within [her] home environment … indicating that there could potentially be a discrepancy between [her] expectations and the needs and personal views of a child.”

So, Ms. Crudup’s religion says she cannot eat pork. If any prospective foster child’s religion mandates the eating of pork (Is there such a religion? I mean, I like bacon as much as the next guy …) it seems that Ms.
Crudup would honor those beliefs — she specifically stated she would help children placed in her care to observe their own religious beliefs.

But, if the child doesn’t religiously need pork but just wants it, would Ms. Crudup’s refusal to provide it (assuming she would go so far, which is not apparent from the story) be a basis for refusing her foster care application because it might conflict with the “personal views of a child?”

Umm, that’s what parenting is — interposing your good sense to guide the impulses of a child. Otherwise, would children ever willingly eat vegetables? Go to bed on time? Do their homework?

Does Contemporary Family Services know that other religions have dietary restrictions, too? Is pork really that big a deal?

To me, as a foster care parent and Maryland taxpayer, this comes down to one question: Is it better to continue to allow children to be beaten or neglected in their homes, or to stay in impersonal group homes, rather than “impose” on them by letting them stay with a woman who does not eat pork?

Seems like an easy one to me.  But, Contemporary Family Services has decided that its views of Muslims are controlling.

3 comments

  1. It will be interesting to watch the story unfold, but I wouldn’t be so quick to rage. If bias really underlies the application denial, fine, but I’m wondering if there’s more going on here than meets the eye (or the file) . . .

  2. I agree that the record is a bit skimpy on facts, Isolde. CFS hasn’t been very forthcoming with any other reasons for the denial, and at this point the ball is in their court. At the very least, though, they have used this as their ostensible reason for the denial.