Almost two decades ago, Tashima Crudup left her grandmother’s home and entered the city’s foster care system, where she learned firsthand what makes a good mother. As she shuffled from family to family beginning at age 8, Crudup encountered some attentive and loving foster parents, while others were unsupportive and constraining. “I always wanted to be a foster parent,” said the 26-year-old mother of five.
In July, Crudup – a practicing Muslim – contacted Contemporary Family Services, a private company authorized by the state to place foster children with families. She cleared an initial screening process and completed 50 hours of training classes for prospective parents. But after a home visit, her application was denied. The main reason: She doesn’t allow pork in her house.
Shocked, Crudup contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which filed a complaint Wednesday with the Baltimore City Community Relations Commission, claiming religious discrimination.
“I have a hard time believing [the company] denies every vegetarian or Orthodox Jewish person a foster care license,” said Ajmel Quereshi, an attorney with the ACLU. “But I do believe Mrs. Crudup was picked out here … and it has led us to believe an anti-Muslim bias is playing a role in the decision.”
Update: See also “A code for religious discrimination”, Baltimore Sun, 16 April 2010