A Look Back at the Adoption and Safe Families Act

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Urban Institute & Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP)

This series of articles reflect the effects and aftermath of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. The law has four primary goals: Move children to permanent families as soon as possible; ensure the safety of youth throughout the system processes; increase the well-being of children involved; and improve innovation and accountability in the system.

The series starts with a framework paper that provides a general overview, features, data and controversies of the ASFA. Personal experience articles follow, written by parents and youth who have seen the pros and cons of the legislation in their lives.

Stories by parents include dealing with foster parents and with being separated from a child while incarcerated, and how misinterpreting or not understanding the ASFA can lead to further problems in reunification with a child. Youth experiences include time in foster homes and with adoptive families and reconnecting with a parent through letters.

Policy briefs by researchers and analysts on the impact of the ASFA on special populations and preserving family connections make up the third section.

The goal of this series is not to deliver one message, but to consider all issues as important and reflective of different experiences.

Free, 138 pages. http://www.urban.org/publications/1001351.html.