DeLay Favors Adoption over Foster Care: Says Liberal Stereotype Makes Child Welfare `One-Party Issue'

Article excerpt

A "liberal paradigm" has made child welfare a "one-party issue for way too long" and "falsely stereotyped" conservatives as not caring about abused children, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay said yesterday in a lecture hosted by a conservative think tank.

"As a conservative legislator, addressing child welfare is the truest expression of my convictions," said Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican and foster parent of two teens.

It's time to encourage adoption over foster care, which means more vigorous prosecution of unfit parents so their parental rights can be terminated, he told the event at the Heritage Foundation.

Federal and state leaders should end funding policies in the foster-care system that reward failure, and instead encourage volunteerism, especially in the Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, which assigns adults to lobby for foster children's best interests, he said.

Mr. DeLay's remarks prompted Heritage policy analyst Patrick Fagan to suggest that Mr. DeLay be called "the compassionate Hammer" - a reference to the nickname the eight-term congressman has earned for clinching votes on the House floor.

The nation's foster-care system, which handles as many as 700,000 abused, neglected and abandoned children a year, is run by states with state and federal dollars. When private money is added in, foster care is a $12 billion industry, some advocacy groups say.

During their years as the majority party in Congress, Democratic lawmakers pushed programs that kept children with parents - even if there was chronic abuse - and encouraged the use of government-paid professionals to intervene in troubled families, in lieu of extended family or grass-roots religious and community groups. …