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Despite Ala. Abortion Law Concerns, State Foster Care Contract Moves Forward

Maryland Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) voted for a foster care contract on Wednesday even though the company providing the service is based Alabama.

The contract for placement of 20 foster children in the state was delayed by the Board of Public Works earlier this month following Franchot’s vow to oppose contracts and investments with Alabama companies after lawmakers in that state approved new laws to essentially outlaw abortion and impose severe criminal penalties on medical professionals who perform the procedure.

Franchot had hoped that Maryland’s Department of Human Services could move the children placed with Montgomery, Ala.-based Seraaj Family Homes to contracts with Maryland-based providers. However, the state agency recommended moving forward with the final $624,920 one-year renewal option to limit disruption to children in state care.

The agency’s report said that Seraaj Family Homeswas “mistakenly … listed as an out of state provider” on the board’s agenda earlier this month. The company serves the state through its Towson office.

Before voting in favor of the contract, Franchot said he hoped the department would move forward in a pragmatic way to address his concerns. New bids for foster care placement contracts are expected this summer.

“I hope that, in the future, the 32 Maryland companies that provide foster care contractual services to you are the ones that are brought back before us to the extent possible. I appreciate the situation that you’re in and I don’t want to affect, obviously, any of a small number of children, but I hope that we don’t see this situation down the road,” Franchot said.

The board approved about $75 million in other foster care contracts on June 5.

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