Sneak Preview: HHS Seeks Comments on Faith-Based Award Barriers

November 3, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking comments on how to reduce regulatory barriers in order for faith-based organizations to participate in HHS-funded programs, particularly in light of a recent attorney general memorandum to federal agencies.

Executive Orders (E.O.) 13279 and 13559 direct federal agencies to “ensure equal protection under the laws for faith-based and community organizations” and “to strengthen the capacity of faith-based and other neighborhood organizations to deliver services effectively to those in need.” In addition, President Trump has issued E.O. 13798, which states that “the policy of the executive branch [is] to vigorously enforce federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.”

Faith-based organizations have a long history of providing services to individuals and communities in need of health care, education, social services and other charitable services nationwide. HHS noted that more than half of all continuing care retirement communities in the country were faith-based in 2013; almost 60 percent of the emergency shelter beds for the homeless in 11 major cities were provided by faith-based organizations in 2016; and one in six hospital patients were cared for in Catholic hospitals in 2015.

“HHS is dedicated to engaging in partnerships with a broad range of private sector organizations, some of which are faith-based and some of which are not, and we aim to administer our programs and funding without discrimination on the basis of religion,” the agency said in an Oct. 25 Federal Register announcement. “As part of achieving the department’s overall goals, HHS is fully committed to fostering robust and thriving partnerships with faith-based organizations that serve as either recipients or subrecipients of department funding or as partners with state or local agencies funded or regulated by HHS.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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