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The Adoption and Safe Families Act January 05, 2005 12:13 PM



On November 19, 1997, the President signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. This legislation, passed by the Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, represents an important landmark in Federal child welfare law. It establishes unequivocally that our national goals for children in the child welfare system are safety, permanency, and well-being. The passage of this new law gives us an unprecedented opportunity to build on the reforms of the child welfare system that have begun in recent years in order to make the system more responsive to the multiple, and often complex, needs of children and families. The law reaffirms the need to forge linkages between the child welfare system and other systems of support for families, as well as between the child welfare system and the courts, to ensure the safety and well-being of children and their families. The law also gives renewed impetus to dismantle the myriad barriers that may exist between children waiting in foster care and permanency. By implementing the new law in the context of an ongoing commitment to strengthening all aspects of the child welfare system, we will make a meaningful difference in the lives of children in foster care and in the lives of children who must come into contact with the child welfare system in the future.

ASFA embodies a number of key principles that must be considered in order to implement the law:

  • The safety of children is the paramount concern that must guide all child welfare services. The new law requires that child safety be the paramount concern when making service provision, placement and permanency planning decisions. The law reaffirms the importance of making reasonable efforts to preserve and reunify families, but also now exemplifies when States are not required to make efforts to keep children with their parents, when doing so places a child's safety in jeopardy.
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 January 05, 2005 12:14 PM

  • Foster care is a temporary setting and not a place for children to grow up. To ensure that the system respects a child's developmental needs and sense of time, the law includes provisions that shorten the timeframe for making permanency planning decisions, and that establish a timeframe for initiating proceedings to terminate parental rights. The law also strongly promotes the timely adoption of children who cannot return safely to their own homes.

  • Permanency planning efforts for children should begin as soon as a child enters foster care and should be expedited by the provision of services to families. The enactment of a legal framework requiring permanency decisions to be made more promptly heightens the importance of providing quality services as quickly as possible to enable families in crisis to address problems. It is only when timely and intensive services are provided to families, that agencies and courts can make informed decisions about parents' ability to protect and care for their children.
  • The child welfare system must focus on results and accountability. The law makes it clear that it is no longer enough to ensure that procedural safeguards are met. It is critical that child welfare services lead to positive results. The law requires numerous tools for focusing attention on results, including an annual report on State performance; the creation of an adoption incentive payment for States designed to support the President's goal of doubling the annual number of children who are adopted or permanently placed by the year 2002; and a requirement for the Department to study and make recommendations regarding additional performance-based financial incentives in child welfare.

  • Innovative approaches are needed to achieve the goals of safety, permanency and well-being. The law recognizes that we do not yet have all of the solutions to achieve our goals. By expanding the authority for child welfare demonstration waivers, the law provides a mechanism to allow States greater flexibility to develop innovative strategies to achieve positive results for children and families.
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    This makes me shiver March 21, 2005 3:12 PM

    The parts that jump off the screen at me are the ones focusing on adoption, such as

    "The law also strongly promotes the timely adoption of children who cannot return safely to their own homes....the creation of an adoption incentive payment for States designed to support the President's goal of doubling the annual number of children who are adopted or permanently placed..."

    This lessens families' chances of being reunited, because their children will be too quickly whisked off to a 'new' family for the rest of their lives. I don't see anything to be encouraged by here. I just thank whatever power that gifted my family with the good fortune to have a social worker who saw that the accusations against us were bogus...i wish everyone were that lucky.

    My thoughts/prayers are with everyone here, as always.

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    It is used in wrong ways July 05, 2005 12:48 PM

    I don't think they should imply it all the time for example I am a disabled mother. They took my baby. Now because i am disabled they don't want to give her back. it is stupid  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
    I'm new here July 14, 2005 4:29 PM

    But, I've had more than my fair share of run-ins with CPS, mostly because I'm poor.However, That was all in the time before the so-called "incentives" were put iin place. As it stands now, CPS is taking kids at an alarming rate, too many times from families who love them dearly, based on poverty,or trumped up charges made out of revenge.My own neice had her parental rights terminated based on her religion.

    Has no one at the federal level realized that offering more money to take kids from thier homes would only lead to more kids BEING taken,many of whom should NOT be?Does no one listen to the horror stories told by families who have lived through this hell?

    My neice was told by the social worker assigned to her,as soon as her case was opened, that she would never get her kids back, because they were "too valuable" to the state.It isn't hard to figure out what she meant by that, but my neice was told that unless she could prove it was said, there was nothing that could be done about it.

    The law should read that states would receive money ONLY if all parties involved (including family members,the children themselves,and at least one mental health professional not affiliated with CPS in ANY way)are in agreement that the best interests of the child have been served.

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     July 28, 2005 2:57 PM

    Welcome Sherry, if i never said that before. I'm glad to have you here, but sorry you have need to be...

    "My own neice had her parental rights terminated based on her religion."

    Hmm... pagan? Just a wild guess.

    "Has no one at the federal level realized that offering more money to take kids from thier homes would only lead to more kids BEING taken,many of whom should NOT be?"

    Gee you would  think that would just be common sense wouldn't you? But either no one at the federal level is aware of this or they are not interested because they like it this way.   

    "Does no one listen to the horror stories told by families who have lived through this hell?"

    Not until they've been through the same hell themselves. Then it's too late. Those who have not experienced it personally think that the ones who have are just exaggerating and dramatizing.

    "My neice was told by the social worker assigned to her,as soon as her case was opened, that she would never get her kids back, because they were "too valuable" to the state..."

    I am amazed that one of them actually admitted it that way.

    "The law should read that states would receive money ONLY if all parties involved (including family members,the children themselves,and at least one mental health professional not affiliated with CPS in ANY way)are in agreement that the best interests of the child have been served."

    Wow. What sound and practical logic. This is why you are not in the position to make those kinds of policy decisions--because you make sense.

    Well we can only keep telling everyone we can, writing letters to those reps, and praying that someone with Sherry's intelligence will make it into a position of some authority...

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    Thank you for your kind words August 02, 2005 3:54 PM

    In answer to your question about my neices religion,yes, she's Wiccan.She asked that her children be placed in a home where her religion would at least be acknowledged,when they were first taken.They were placed in a Christian home, where the foster mom took them to church every Sunday.When my neice would visit, her oldest daughter,who was 7 at the time, kept telling her" You need to go to church Mommy, I don't want you to go to Hell."

    She lost them in the first place, because she was with a horribly abusive man, who had broken her nose by slamming her face into a wall for just threatening to leave him.He also told her that if she ever tried to turn him in, he would take her down with him.He forced her to work as a stripper,while he dealt drugs.She was too afraid of him to leave.

    One day, he called her at work and said" You need to come get your kid,and take her to the hospital."The "kid" he was talking about was my neices 4 year old daughter.She came home and found the child unconscious,and bloody.She grabbed all the kids, and ran out the door.when she got to the hospital, of course CPS was called, as well as the police.The police went to the house,and he was sitting there watching tv.When asked if he had hurt Katie, he said" Hell yeah, I did it, she pissed me off." He was arrested for felony child abuse.He had busted little Katies skull so bad, a 2 inch square had to be removed.The police searched the house,and found drugs all over the place,including in their 5 month olds diaper bag.Even one of the cops admitted some of them "seemed planted".But the kids were removed from my neices custody immediately,even though the man who did this was behind bars,because of the drugs.

     CPS ordered my neice to undergo drug rehab, which she did, repeatedly testing clean.Then they told her she couldnt have a boyfriend, because she was"too dependant on men".Once Katie was out of the hospital, she was allowed to visit with them for 2 hours every two weeks.they were always dirty,and hungry.Her oldest told her one day that the foster mom told them" It's your moms day to see you, she can feed you while you're there."

    One day, as my neice was walking down the hallway, on her way to visit her kids, another worker walked past her and said"Damned Satanists shouldn't be allowed to HAVE kids."

    Nothing my neice did was good enough.Each time she would reach one of CPS's "goals" for her, her worker would smile and say" it isn't good enough" and come up with something else.At one time, they told her that she had 2 weeks to have a job that payed enough for her to support herself and the three kids on-all by herself.My neice is a high school dropout,and even with her GED, she couldn't find a job that payed well enough for her to completely support herself and the kids.She told them she was going to apply for medicaid for the kids,and the worker smiled at her and said" That's not acceptable, we want to see you able to completely do this,by yourself." They knew she couldn't.

    At the first court appearance,my sister petitioned to get the kids.The judge agreed, and ordered them remanded immediately to my sisters care.CPS did an end run around that one, pulling the case out of family court,and restarting it in circuit court,where the judge(who was a golf buddy of the lawyer for CPS)overturned the order for the kids to go to my sister,and ordered them to remain in the foster home they were in.

    This went on for 2 years, with my neice taking pictures to prove the kids were coming for thier visits dirty,and with bruises all over them.The foster mom told CPS that another foster child was beating them up,and nothing more was done.Once my neices rights were terminated, the foster mother was the one who adopted all 3 kids.She recieves a check from the state to help her with them, as well as medicaid for each child.The last we heard, Katie had been diagnosed with very mild brain damage,and all the kids are on medication for ADHD(they never had that before-so why now,unless it's to keep them drugged and under control?)

    My neice is now married, and expecting a baby with her husband.She's afraid to tell her doctor that she's had kids, because she's scared he'll report her for something,and someone will take this one,too.Shes had several miscarriages, so the doctor is under the impression that those are the only pregnancies she's had.She's already being accused to her face of being neglectful with her unborn baby, because she wants a natural childbirth, with a midwife in attendance.Her doctor is being wonderful about it,backing her up all the way,and has even gotten her in touch with a midwife, who will attend her birth in the hospital.

    I don't blame her at all for being paranoid.

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     August 20, 2005 11:01 AM

    I live in UK and both my children are to be adopted. Ordered by family court. I did not stand a chance because I am disabled.

    But I can write to them 4 times a year and they can find me when they are older. Its there right under the Childrens Act. They are 6 and 7 yrs. I miss them terribly but I know I will get them back eventually. It makes adoption a farce. Please pray for me.


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    Child Reform August 22, 2005 1:40 PM

    I have been the attack of CPS/Juvenile Courts now for almost 2 years. Even after the fact that the new case workers who came in after Gov of georgia placed scrutiny on all DFCS offices, he openly was disguisted by the extreme measures that they had taken with my family. I was told they should HAVE NEVER BEEN REMOVED from the home. 4 days before the court hearing on placing my children up for adoption. I created a website immediately after the initial removal. Which Juvenile Judge was in shock and broke her own Rules of Conduct, Cannon Code, Ethics Etc. As well as most of the personnel and attorneys involved. It is a shame that this happens. That the Govet and the media will not acknowledge this fact.

    I remember very clearly that these lessons were taught in government classes, civics classes and social studies classes. So do not give me any credit for writing this as if I have stumbled upon knowledge and recognized it for what it is. If I had listened and understood when these things were being taught to me it would not have taken me 30 years to try and understand why this government has become what it now is. But I do remember now and that may be the only credit I deserve.
    To add insult to injury, the one thing I have been able to figure out for myself is that one of the most powerful tools corruption has to its advantage is that corruption has little to fear because I have come to realize certain things, or have "awakened to the circumstances and conditions."
    To say the United States of America knowingly and willingly does these things to children for profit and experiments in social control is to automatically be placed in a category of individuals who have lost their mind and ability to reason. To try and speak out about the whole truth, no matter how much proof I have been able to document that this is true, is to invite ridicule upon myself, and more. For those of you who may be able to grasp what I have tried to present, even with the limitations of my tenth grade education, must also come to terms that to come forth with the truth is to invite scorn, punishment and penalties upon yourself. To attempt to continue taking a stand about these issues is only reinforcing the the disbelief many others choose to hold onto. Listen to me, I sound crazy, like a man gone completely mad and it is certainly well advised not to take a person with such "wild ideas" seriously.
    It must be known for certain by those who choose to advocate for social change and especially the rights of children that to demand an exposure of the whole truth is to invite failure. To fail to realize what you are up against is also to invite failure. A balance must be found where the public will not "fear your messages." That is why I have said that advocating for children's rights must focus on truth and perhaps the truth that God has provided is the best issue to stand firm upon.
    It is most fortunate to know that if one is truly aware of the rights of children and has the knowledge of the needs of children then this truth itself will guide the advocate towards effective reforms and keep them from the harms way for casting fearful and negative messages to the public.

    Child welfare reform has its own set of circumstances and specific conditions to consider.
    If children are the precious and essential elements of a society, then that society must conduct its affairs accordingly and by doing so not only secures its own welfare, but also the welfare of future generations, as a natural consequence of responsibly protecting and educating children in a manner that reflects children being recognized as one of the most precious gifts of God and being what life demands in order to preserve the continuation of life itself.
    Children are the future, if there is to be one at all. What else could possibly be more important to consider when it comes to the rights of children? If what is decided to be right for Social Workers, Expert Witnesses, Courts, Prosecutors , Judges and the Parents, is wrong for the child then it was not right to begin with! There is no other standard to accept, or exception to consider, when it comes to the rights and welfare of children. [This will be repeated!]
    Child welfare reform is long overdue and what is happening to children in the United States of America is a national disgrace and the people need to accept their portion of the guilt for this disgrace.

    If the children's advocate were to strictly adhere to those rights, but stay faithful and fully informed, and limit their presentations and pleas for those rights of the children to these truths then these truths will also protect these advocates from the punishments and penalties of attempting to expose the whole picture. In addition to these protections for not exposing it all, these truths will eventually allow the public their own opportunity to see the whole picture in full when the public is allowed to see for itself and then begin to realize how important the rights of children are and what has not been done by this society to protect these rights.
    There are mother's rights groups and there are father's rights groups who cast stones at each other and fight amongst themselves and by doing these things confuse the issues of children's rights and waste so much time and energy that could solve MANY problems if only these groups would abandon their theories that are not consistent with the truth of children's rights.
    That legislator, or that lawyer, or that judge, or that prosecutor, or that police officer, or that social worker, knows what they are doing to you and also know what suffering your children will soon endure, or have endured. These people are not ignorant to what they are doing, they know full well what they do and they do not care what it causes you, or yo  [ send green star]  [ accepted]

     August 29, 2005 1:01 PM

    Oh, it makes me so sad to hear your life stories. CPS are wrong. They need to be revamped. I'm here to help if I can. At one time they tried to take my kids, I fought them off and won. If there is anything I can do for you, I will sure try. I'm here trying to help April if possible, but everyone else too. So sorry. Rage  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
     December 12, 2005 11:13 PM

    The safe families act law, allows for the system to go either way,

    the state makes more money when they don't return the child to the parent. 

    the bonuses and rewards for the states has turned into an incentive to adopt.


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    hi im new January 16, 2006 5:52 PM

    I joined this group as my 14 yr old has been taken of us by the welfare through no fault of her own ,We found out she had stole my credit card and joined up dating sites on the net and ran up my card$400. The day we found out she decided to call the police and make allegations about my husband molesting her how convenient i thought.Anyway she has been placed in a hostel she an run around town till all hours with god knows who.She has a mobile and we found out she has all sorts of men and boys callin her so we asked for the phone and got nowhere.she also used our home phone to ring theses boys on there mobile so our ph bill went up heaps she also recharged her mobile with my credit card 25 top ups in 3 days .Yes so now we are bad parents I live in australia and have 2 other kids aswell .It seems to me we are the guilty party while she can rip us of we cant have her charged due to her age it sucks.We are stuck with the bill she also broke my computer hard drive yet another bill of $400. We had an appointment with the welfare we sat there for 1hr the lady came back in the office and said she had a bad day she was going home after my husband took 3hrs of work to attend .When we left there there was a boy and girl 14 sitting on the steps he had his hand up her underpants and a boy 8 with a camera phone taking pictures good old welfare .While in care my daughter was due to attend a high school appointment but didnt go as school is starting on monday the welfare said they cant make her go . as parents it seems we have no say in our childs future I then found out from her worker she had gone out and got her nose pierced without our permission. I thought the welfare had to protect her it seems they dont care she can go out with boys double her age and they wont stop her.The dilemma is now im scared they will send her back to us pregnant my heart is broken she had it all with us .Tv cable mobile and computer she got her washing done meals cooked etc and this is how she repays us so it doesnt matter if your kids have a good home life or not.They havent charged my husband

    but now want to put her in a foster home i cant understand why we will have her here but she has to go by our rules .So my husband has his life and job ruined through her lies and and i bet we dont get even an apology from the welfare or police.So we will just have to sit here while she does her best to split my family up .What hope do we have thanks for listening

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     October 15, 2008 9:51 PM

    please sign my petition

    termination of parental rights unconstitutional

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