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March 2010Vol. 11, No. 2Key Themes in Child Welfare Legislation Since 2000

Since 2000, Federal child welfare legislation has shaped the delivery of State child welfare services by increasingly requiring the incorporation of innovative best practices into federally funded child welfare programs. Four Federal legislative themes demonstrate some of the overarching efforts to improve programs and services that ensure the safety, permanency, and well-being of children.

  1. Ensuring Protection of Children in Foster Care. Increased requirements and guidelines were added to existing Federal child welfare legislation in the past decade to improve the safety of children in foster care:

  2. Supporting Older Foster Youth and Youth Aging Out of Care. Concern regarding the number of older youth remaining in foster care and long-term outcomes of youth aging out of foster care prompted legislative efforts to include federally funded programs and services designed to improve permanency and well-being of older youth in foster care:

  3. Focus on Child Well-Being Outcomes. Children in foster care often have multiple and complex issues that affect their well-being. Federal legislation has addressed the importance of improving outcomes of a child's physical, mental, and educational well-being:

  4. Reducing Barriers to Placing Children in Permanent Homes.  
    The movement to reduce barriers to permanency for children has encouraged the use of incentives and other strategies to find safe and nurturing placements and move children into legally permanent homes:

For more information on Federal child welfare legislation, visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway website: