The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA, Public Law 96-272) created a national framework for the present-day foster care and adoption assistance programs in the United States. The law was enacted in response to concerns, documented in several landmark studies in the late 1970s, that children were being removed from their homes unnecessarily and, once separated from parents, spent too long in foster care. Foster care drift was the term coined to describe this phenomenon of long-lasting though ostensibly temporary foster care.
Nearly $7 billion in federal funds in 2005 were spent to support foster care payments and adoption subsidies for eligible children in accordance with the AACWA. Federal funds match similar levels of state spending for these activities.
Prior to the AACWA, the federal government had, since 1962, supported state foster care programs through the federal welfare program Aid to Families with Dependent Children. The AACWA separated the welfare and foster care functions and created for the first time federal financial support for adoption assistance subsidies to encourage the adoption of children with special needs. Adoption subsidies had existed in some states prior to the act’s passage, but in its wake all states established such programs. Foster care payments could be supported with federal funds only if a judicial determination confirmed that continuation in the child’s own home would be contrary to the welfare of the child.
The AACWA institutionalized in federal law the principle of permanency planning, that the goal of foster care is to identify a permanent, stable family for the child, with his or her biological parents if that is possible, or with an adoptive family if it is not. It requires state child welfare agencies to establish individualized case plan goals for each child in foster care, and to provide periodic administrative and judicial reviews of the family’s progress in meeting the requirements of the case plan. These requirements began the first significant court oversight of child welfare cases. Also of great significance is the requirement that “reasonable efforts” be made to prevent the need for foster care and to address the problems that lead to foster care placement. The law further requires that children be placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting in which their needs can be met.
Following the passage of the AACWA, foster care caseloads declined briefly during the early 1980s. These achievements were short-lived, however, and caseloads soon began increasing once again.
- Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act. (1980). Retrieved from https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/96/hr3434
- Fanshel, D., & Shinn, E. B. (1978). Children in foster care.New York: Columbia University Press.
- Murray, K. O., & Gesiriech, S. (2003). A brief legislative history of the child welfare system. Washington, DC: Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care.
This example Adoption Assistance And Child Welfare Act Of 1980 Essay is published for educational and informational purposes only. If you need a custom essay or research paper on this topic please use our writing services. EssayEmpire.com offers reliable custom essay writing services that can help you to receive high grades and impress your professors with the quality of each essay or research paper you hand in.