The Impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act on Children of Incarcerated Parents

Arlene F. Lee, Philip M. Genty and Mimi Laver Child Welfare League of America

in Interrupted Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520252493
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944565 | DOI:
The Impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act on Children of Incarcerated Parents

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On November 9, 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) to improve the safety of children, to promote adoption and other permanent homes for children, and to support families. The changes in ASFA are important to ensure the safety of children and increase their likelihood of placement in permanent homes. The change that requires close examination is the timeline for initiating the termination of parental rights (TPR) proceedings. Many people have questioned whether these changes, if applied in their strictest terms, have had a detrimental effect on children of prisoners, because a large percentage of incarcerated parents are sentenced to longer than two years in prison. This chapter examines the potential effect of ASFA's TPR requirements on children of prisoners. In particular, it discusses the impact of ASFA and shows how easily parents can lose custody of children who are in foster care because of federal and state laws that shorten the time frame within which the state can permanently sever parental ties without taking incarceration into account.

Keywords: Adoption and Safe Families Act; children of prisoners; termination of parental rights; incarcerated parents; custody; foster care; incarceration; permanent homes

Chapter.  2139 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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