• September 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 8

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ASFA and Reuniting Children With Incarcerated Mothers

The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC) recently published an information packet providing statistical information about incarcerated mothers and their children. The information packet also addresses some of the barriers to reunification faced by incarcerated mothers due to certain provisions in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA).

ASFA requires that States establish a permanency plan for each child in care within 12 months of the child's entry into foster care. If the child remains in care for 15 out of 22 months, ASFA requires the filing of a petition for termination of parental rights, unless there are extenuating circumstances. States are expected to promote the reunification of parents and children during this 15-month period. However, in the case of incarcerated single mothers, ASFA presents barriers to reunification. For example, the length of the mother's sentence may be longer than 15 months. A mother may also be sent to a correctional facility that is far from where her children live, making it difficult to sustain reunification strategies, such as parent-child visits.

In addition to policy highlights, the packet also suggests resources for policymakers and child welfare workers. Topics covered in the packet include the following:

  • Policy details of ASFA, as well as the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, and how these may impact incarcerated parents and their children
  • Amendments some States have made to ASFA guidelines to address the issue of incarcerated parents
  • Best practice tips for working with children of incarcerated parents from the New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children
  • Reports addressing topics such as interactions between incarcerated parents and their children, foster care and permanency, and how to provide support to kinship caregivers of children with incarcerated parents

The Adoption and Safe Families Act: Barriers to Reunification Between Children and Incarcerated Mothers is available on NRCPFC's website:

http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/information_packets/TheAdoptions&SafeFamiliesActBarrierToReunificationBetweenChildren&IncarceratedMothers.pdf (642 KB)

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