MEPA Bombshell Hits Hamilton County Ohio

In an unprecedented move, the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Letter of Finding to Hamilton County Ohio with a determination that the county violated the civil rights of children eligible for adoption and of foster families and other prospective adoptive families. After an extensive investigation OCR discovered that the county violated MEPA by making adoption determinations on the basis of race, rather than on the basis of the individual needs of the children.

The cited violations included instances where non-African-American foster families were improperly prevented from adopting African-American children in their care with whom they had formed a close bond, because of racial considerations.

According to OCR, in the past five years, they have initiated more than 130 investigations of racial discrimination in adoption and foster care. In most of these cases, they reached a satisfactory conclusion with federal grantees, either finding no violation or working with grantees to make needed changes in their programs. The Hamilton County case is the first instance in which OCR issued a MEPA/Section 1808 Letter of Finding that the civil rights of individual children or prospective adoptive or foster parents were violated. Reportedly, this action was necessary due to the prolonged history of discrimination of this kind by the county program and the failure to reach agreement on effective corrections.

In response to the OCR investigation, HHS imposed an unheard of $1.8 million fine!

Race in adoption – a big issue. Read the OCR Report.

Check out the statement by Richard Campanelli HHS Office for Civil Rights Director.

For more on this topic see this article on Adoption Affirmative Action in Iowa.

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