Foster Care Reform

Can new approaches stem the crisis?


On the last day of the 1997 legislative session, Congress passed what has been hailed as the most significant overhaul of the foster care system in nearly 20 years. The Adoption and Safe Families Act is designed to hasten the adoption of children in foster care by putting more emphasis on children's safety rather than returning them to dangerous family situations. In doing so, the legislation addresses one of the leading criticisms of existing child-protective law – that it overemphasizes family preservation rather than protecting abused and neglected children. The legislation also gives states new financial incentives to find adoptive parents. But critics question whether the law can increase the underfunded child-welfare system's ability to cope with acute societal problems caused by drugs, AIDS and ...

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