• Sept / Oct 2006
  • Vol. 7, No. 7

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Wide-Ranging Impacts of ASFA

The 1997 passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) has had significant impacts on the timeliness of permanency decisions for children in foster care. Three recent research papers examined the specific effects of ASFA on (1) substance abuse treatment for Oregon mothers, (2) permanency decisions for children of parents with mental illness, and (3) dependency courts' permanency decisions for children of substance-abusing parents.

"Understanding Patterns of Substance Abuse Treatment for Women Involved With Child Welfare: The Influence of the Adoption and Safe Families Act," suggests that ASFA's influence on timely permanency decisions has prompted improvements in the substance abuse delivery system. In many cases, treatment services are delivered more quickly, and there is increased likelihood that parents receive appropriate services. The authors base their conclusions on their study of 1,911 Oregon mothers involved with substance abuse and child welfare. This article is available in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse:

[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

"Mental Health Issues and the Foster Care System: An Examination of the Impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act" explores 30 foster care appellate court cases from Virginia in which mental health issues were presented into evidence. In the 14 cases decided before the passage of ASFA, 79 percent resulted in termination of parental rights (TPR). All 16 cases decided after the enactment of ASFA resulted in TPR. The authors discuss the results in terms of the need for therapists to understand ASFA requirements and the influence of parental behaviors on courts' TPR decisions. This article appeared in the April 2006 issue of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.

Parental Substance Abuse, Child Protection and ASFA: Implications for Policy Makers and Practitioners examines how dependency courts are making permanency decisions under ASFA. The authors surveyed judges and community professionals, conducted a legal analysis, and studied five courts with special dependency case strategies. Findings point to the importance of early identification and treatment of parents with substance abuse in order to meet ASFA timelines. This report is available on the website of the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law:

[Editor's note: This link is no longer available.]

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