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What Is the Adoption and Safe Families Act?


Question: What Is the Adoption and Safe Families Act?

The Adoption and Safe Families Act(ASFA), PL 105-89, maintains many points of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, PL 96-272, but changes the focus making states balance family preservation and family reunification with the safety of the children. Some of the biggest changes made by ASFA are the shortened timetables and new definitions. ASFA was signed into law on November 19, 1997.

Other Points or Goals of The Adoption and Safe Families Act(ASFA)

  • States must start court proceedings to place children for adoption once a child had been waiting in foster care for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless there is an exception, such as it's not in the best interest of the child or the child is with a relative. In extreme cases a child may be made available for adoption earlier.

  • All special needs children are ensured health coverage in subsidized adoptions even if they are not 4E adoptions.

  • PL 96-272 states that the court review the case every 18 months, ASFA dictates that a hearing is held every 12 months. The term was also changed from a "dispositional hearing" to "permanency planning hearing."

  • Safety of the child is most important in this law and requires that the case plan include a child's safety in every step outlined.

  • Family reunification efforts are limited to 15 months beginning on the date the child enters foster care.

  • States must allow and not cause a delay for the possibility of placement outside of their jurisdiction if there is an approved family member willing to parent the child.

  • Adoption incentive payments to states that increase the number of adoptions of children in foster care when compared to their base year.

  • Notification of, and the opportunity to be heard in any review process to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or relatives of children in foster care.

Adoption and Safe Families Act(ASFA), PL 105-89 - Child Welfare Information Gateway

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