Do Faith-Based Foster Care Agencies Respond Equally to All Clients?

Mattie Mackenzie-Liu, David J. Schwegman, Leonard M. Lopoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent laws and court rulings have increased legal protections for faith-based organizations that refuse to provide services to certain individuals based on deeply held religious beliefs. Using data from a 2019 email correspondence study, we examine if religiously-affiliated foster care agencies respond to inquiries from white same-sex couples differently from public and secular foster care agencies. This paper provides preliminary, descriptive results that public sector discrimination can vary by the type of organization that is providing the service. We find suggestive evidence that religiously-affiliated foster care agencies are less likely to respond to same-sex male couples. However, this study lacks sufficient statistical power to find conclusive evidence of differential treatment by type of organization, which highlights the challenges of conducting correspondence studies that examine intersectional discrimination. Despite this limitation, we argue that it is increasingly important for scholars of public administration and public policy to examine and understand how discrimination in the public sector may vary by group membership or organizational type. While exploring this intersectional discrimination may be limited in certain contexts, understanding how and why organizations and public servants are more or less likely to respond to particular groups is an important first step in designing interventions or crafting policies to reduce differential treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-58
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Policy Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Discrimination
  • Field Experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Administration


Dive into the research topics of 'Do Faith-Based Foster Care Agencies Respond Equally to All Clients?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this