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September 2005Vol. 6, No. 7State Child Welfare Legislation 2004

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) highlights significant State child welfare legislation enacted in 2004 in its most recent annual report, State Child Welfare Legislation: 2004. The report focuses on legislative trends of concern to the child welfare field, including laws to address children's exposure to methamphetamine, improve educational services for children in the child welfare system, expedite permanency for foster children, support foster parents and kinship caregivers, assist youth who are aging out of care, and promote collaboration among agencies that serve children and families.

An issue that received significant legislative attention in 2004 addressed the need to ensure that parents' rights are protected when child welfare agencies investigate. Many of these laws were passed to comply with amendments to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (most recently passed as the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act, 2003), requiring that subjects of protective investigations be informed of the allegations against them and that child protective services staff be trained in their legal duties to protect the legal rights and safety of children and families.

Descriptions of significant State legislation are listed by issue area in alphabetical order. An appendix contains both citations and summaries of the laws discussed. The report is available on the NCSL website as a PDF file at (501 KB).