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State Letter #06-04

Implementation of and Monitoring Compliance with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Equal Treatment Regulations

Published: January 18, 2006
Types:
State Letter
Tags:
equal treatment, regulations

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
WILSON/FISH ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS
REPLACEMENT DESIGNEES

FROM: Nguyen Van Hanh, Ph.D.
Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement(ORR)


SUBJECT: Implementation of and Monitoring Compliance with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Equal Treatment Regulations

States, Wilson/Fish Alternative programs and replacement designees that receive Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) formula funding for Social Services or Targeted Assistance services are advised that new Federal regulations governing your receipt of Federal funds apply.

Executive Order 13279 (67 FR 77141), signed by President George W. Bush on December 12, 2002, stated that "no organization should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or religious belief in the administration or distribution of Federal financial assistance under social service programs..."
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/12/20021212-6.html

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took steps to implement Executive Order 13279 by issuing regulations on July 16, 2004 (69 FR 42586-42595) entitled " Participation in Department of Health and Human Services Programs by Religious Organizations; Providing for Equal Treatment of All Department of Health and Human Services Program Participants."

Recipients of ORR formula grants (States, Wilson/Fish alternative programs and replacement designees) are governed by these regulations. The HHS Equal Treatment Regulations apply to Federally funded State Social Services programs in the following areas:

  • Nondiscrimination against religious organizations in competition for HHS grant funds;
  • Ability of religious organizations to retain their religious character; and
  • Prohibition against religious organizations' use of funds to finance inherently religious activities, such as worship, religious instruction, and proselytization.

States, Wilson/Fish alternative programs and replacement designees are advised that each program's policies and procedures, including monitoring protocols and instructions, should be revised to reflect the Equal Treatment Regulations. States are advised to seek legal clarification from appropriate State Legal Counsel regarding the application of these regulations to their programs and the interaction of State laws and Constitutions with the HHS Equal Treatment Regulations.

If you have questions regarding the HHS Equal Treatment Regulations, please contact Gayle Smith via e-mail at gsmith@acf.hhs.gov, or by telephone (202) 205-3590.