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September 2004Vol. 5, No. 7Recent State Child Welfare Legislation

A new report released by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) presents an overview of significant State legislation related to child welfare issues enacted during calendar years 2002 and 2003. The report, State Child Welfare Legislation: 2002-2003, describes emerging issues and key legislative trends related to child welfare practice. It also discusses new laws that have had a significant impact on child welfare practice or administration and includes an appendix of citations and summaries of specific child welfare-related laws in each State.

Issues addressed by the report include:

  • Accountability of State child welfare systems
  • Adoption and guardianship
  • Child welfare workforce development
  • Children's exposure to domestic violence
  • Children's exposure to methamphetamine and other drugs
  • Reporting of child abuse and neglect by clergy
  • Foster care
  • Education of children in foster care
  • Children missing from foster care
  • Foster youth in transition to independent living
  • Kinship care
  • Investigations of child maltreatment
  • "Safe haven" laws
  • Public access to records and proceedings
  • Systems coordination and integration
  • Systems reform

State Child Welfare Legislation: 2002-2003 is the first of five reports to be prepared under the Children's Bureau Technical Assistance to State Legislators on the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) Project. It is available on the NCSL website at