November 16, 2017

Child Welfare Federal Act Enhancements

AUGUST 1988

BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association supports amendments in the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-272) that would strengthen the role of the Legal system in planning for children in foster care and ensure better and more consistent services for children, as follows:

(a) The Act should be amended to require states to establish a set of preventive and reunification services that will be provided on a consistent, state-wide basis.

(b) The Act should be amended to require state child welfare agencies to provide detailed reports to courts and to other interested agencies concerning preventive and reunification services available throughout the state.

(c) The Act should be amended to require agencies to provide courts with written statements describing their efforts to preserve families in each individual case.

(d) The Act should be amended to clarify that agencies are entitled to federal matching funds to reimburse their costs of legal counsel in helping them administer the Act, but on the condition that agency counsel perform certain duties needed for effective implementation of the Act.

(e) The Act should be amended to provide lump sum payments to state court systems to help them improve their administration of juvenile court cases involving foster children.

(f) The Act should be amended to permit the payment of federal matching funds for the administrative costs of citizen review boards that are not administered by state and local child welfare agencies.

(g) The Act should be amended to provide fiscal incentives for courts that reduce or limit delays in foster care litigation and improve their court rules governing foster care cases.

(h) The Act should be amended to clarify that there is a private cause of action under the Act.