The impact of the Adoption and Safe Families Act on children of incarcerated parents.

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Lee, Arlene F.
Genty, Philip M.
Laver, Mimi.
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This book examines the potential effect of termination of parental rights (TPR) provisions in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) on children of prisoners. It explores the rate children of incarcerated parents are becoming the subjects of TPR hearings, if the hearings are triggered by the timelines delineated in ASFA, whether there has been an increase in the rate of TPR for children of prisoners since passage of ASFA, and whether children of prisoners are becoming the subjects of TPR at a higher rate then other children in foster care. Data for the investigation was collected on State laws regarding TPR, the frequency of TPR of incarcerated parents, and from a case review. Findings indicate that 36 States have TPR statutes that deal explicitly with parental incarceration. Of these, 25 have statutes that are primarily time driven. Results from the study also indicate there has been a significant increase in the number of termination cases involving incarcerated parents that were filed from 1997-2002. Results from surveys of judges, attorneys, and child welfare representatives found that: judges and attorneys, and some child welfare workers, believe ASFA affects children of incarcerated parents differently than other children; a high percentage of judges believed that parental rights are more likely to be terminated as a result of incarceration of parents in child abuse and neglect cases compared with those who are not incarcerated; and that judges believe incarceration expedites TPRs in cases of children of incarcerated parents, whereas child welfare workers felt timeliness is not affected. On whether incarceration may be grounds for TPR, a high percentage of attorneys believed it can be while only a small number of judges agreed. The case file review indicated TPRs were granted in 81.5% of cases involving parents incarcerated due to drug-related offenses, in 92.9% of cases in which the mother was incarcerated, and in 91.4% cases when fathers were incarcerated. Appendices include a summary of State statutes. 6 tables and 37 figures.

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