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Equal Treatment Regulations for Faith-Based Organizations

What You Need to Know about Equal Treatment Regulations

Published: September 1, 2011
Categories:
Program Administration
Topics:
Current Guidance, States/Territories
Types:
Fact Sheet
Tags:
Faith-Based Organizations

Equal Treatment Regulations for Faith-Based Organizations

What You Need to Know about Equal Treatment Regulations

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations pertaining to the Equal Treatment for Faith-Based Organizations can be found at 45 CFR Part 87. These regulations do not explicitly apply to the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Yet, to the extent permitted by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act and implementing regulations, the policies in the Part 87 rules should be followed as a matter of good practice. Furthermore, the CCDF regulations contain a number of provisions relevant to treatment of faith-based organizations (including 45 CFR 98.30, 98.47, and 98.54) that are consistent with the policies in the HHS Equal Treatment regulations.

Under the HHS Equal Treatment regulations, direct Federal grants, sub-award funds, or contracts shall not be used to support inherently religious activities such as religious instruction, worship, or proselytization. Therefore, organizations must take steps to separate, in time or location, their inherently religious activities from federally-funded services or activities.  However, these restrictions on inherently religious activities do not apply where Federal funds are indirectly provided to faith-based organizations (for example, as a result of a genuine and independent private choice of a beneficiary through a voucher, certificate, or similar mechanism).

Regardless of whether funding is direct or indirect, a faith-based organization receiving HHS funds retains its independence from Federal, State, and local governments, and may continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, practice, and expression of its religious beliefs. For example, a faith-based organization may use space in its facilities to provide secular programs or services funded with Federal funds without removing religious art, icons, scriptures, or other religious symbols. In addition, a faith-based organization that receives Federal funds retains its authority over its internal governance, and it may retain religious terms in its organization's name, select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its organization's mission statements and other governing documents in accordance with all program requirements, statutes, and other applicable requirements governing the conduct of HHS funded activities.