Press Release

Families and children affected by Supreme Court case share their stories New website tells stories of heroic foster families, explains nationwide foster care conflict

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON – In anticipation of the upcoming Supreme Court oral argument in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia—the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s case defending faith-affirming foster care—Becket has launched a new online resource to highlight what is at stake for children and families in Philadelphia and around the country. gives readers an opportunity to go beyond the editorial pages and Twitter feeds to meet the real families that are harmed when governments kick faith-affirming agencies out of the foster care system.

In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, foster moms Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch are fighting for Catholic Social Services—the agency that has supported them throughout their foster care journeys. This resource provides background and details on the case while also explaining how foster children, foster families, and all those who rely on faith-affirming agencies for social services would be harmed if the Supreme Court were to rule against Sharonell, Toni, and Catholic Social Services.

At, you can learn more about:

  • Plaintiffs Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch. Sharonell has fostered more than 40 children over 25 years in partnership with Catholic Social Services. Toni is a former foster care social worker who worked professionally with all 29 agencies in the city. But when Toni decided to become a foster parent herself, she decided to work with Catholic Social Services—the agency she trusted the most. Both foster moms, single women of color, state that their affiliation with Catholic Social Services is the reason they were able to do so much for so many children.
  • Who is excluded from foster care. Willing foster parents like Toni are unable to care for the over 200 foster children in the city living in institutions instead of loving homes. tells the stories of Sharonell, Toni and many other families that were able to give a loving home and a new life to children in need thanks to the support of faith-affirming foster agencies.
  • How people of all faiths are part of this important case. Jewish, Muslim, and Catholic families rely on their religious groups for support. Closing down Catholic Social Services and agencies like it means fewer families are available to foster and, in turn, more children are kept waiting for loving homes.
  • The history of foster care in Philadelphia. The Catholic Church in Philadelphia pioneered foster care 150 years before the government got involved. Read about the history of Catholic Social Services and how it was part of the solution for children and families in need from the beginning.
  • Catholic Social Services’ foster care ministry. Catholic Social Services serves all children regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. Their scope of work includes support services for all children and wraparound services for LGBTQ families except for home studies.
  • How the exclusion of Catholic Social Services harms racial minorities. More than 60% of the families and 70% of the children served by Catholic Social Services are racial Learn more about how excluding faith-affirming partners from the foster care system disproportionately harms Black families—like those of Toni and Sharonell—who are more likely to partner with faith-affirming agencies in the foster care system.

“I was so grateful to see my story told alongside that of the many other children and families directly affected by the City’s actions. Our hearts broke when we realized Catholic Social Services’ foster program might close down over what seems like a common sense issue: we need more families to care for children, not less,” said Catherine Knapke, a Philadelphia foster parent. “If Catholic Social Services is allowed to remain open, my husband and I would love to foster again in a heartbeat. I just pray we get that chance.”

In addition to telling the stories of heroic foster families, provides resources on how foster care works, the history of faith-affirming foster care in the United States, and common misconceptions about the current foster care debate. The website is a great resource for anyone who wants more information about the debate over the place of faith-affirming agencies in the foster care system which will come to a head on November 4, 2020 with oral argument at the Supreme Court in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia.

“So many people don’t understand how hard it is to care for foster children—up to half of foster families quit within the first year. It’s no wonder that so many successful foster parents say that the support of their faith community and the religious agencies they partner with has been a vital resource,” said Naomi Schaefer Riley, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute specializing in child welfare and foster care tells the stories of these families, bringing a face to an often faceless problem. This case is about ensuring the greatest number of stable, loving homes is available to our nation’s most vulnerable children.”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.