Thursday, May 3, 2012

Food for thought

Below is a partial summery of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997:

Establishes New Time Line and Conditions for Filing Termination of Parental Rights. Federal law did not require states to initiate termination of parental rights proceedings based on a child's length of stay in foster care. Under the new law, states must file a petition to terminate parental rights and concurrently, identify, recruit, process and approve a qualified adoptive family on behalf of any child, regardless of age, that has been in foster care for 15 out of the most recent 22 months. A child would be considered as having entered foster care on the earlier of either the date of the first judicial finding of abuse or neglect, or 60 days after the child is removed from the home

Sets New Time Frame for Permanency Hearings. Former federal law required a dispositional hearing within 18 months of a child's placement into out-of-home care. The new law establishes a permanency planning hearing for children in care that occurs within 12 months of a child's entry into care. At the hearing, there must be a determination of whether and when a child will be returned home, placed for adoption and a termination of parental rights petition will be filed, referred for legal guardianship, or another planned permanent living arrangement if the other options are not appropriate

Modifies Reasonable Efforts Provision in P.L. 96-272. States continue to be required to make reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families. In making decisions about the removal of a child from, and the child's return to, his or her home, the child's health and safety shall be the paramount concern. The reasonable efforts requirement does not apply in cases in which a court has found that:

  • the parent has subjected the child to "aggravated circumstances" as defined in state law (including but not limited to abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse);
  • the parent has committed murder or voluntary manslaughter or aided or abetted, attempted, conspired or solicited to commit such a murder or manslaughter of another child of the parent;
  • the parent has committed a felony assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child or another one of their children; or
  • the parental rights of the parent to a sibling have been involuntarily terminated

In these cases, states would NOT be required to make reasonable efforts to preserve or reunify the family but are required to hold a permanency hearing within 30 days and to make reasonable efforts to place the child for adoption, with a legal guardian, or in another permanent placement

Sadly almost every case I am aware of in foster care is not following any of the above guidelines.  Given what is written above Primo and his brothers should not still be in care and would never reunify with their parents.


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