Improvements to the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)

On the ten year anniversary of the Adoption and Safe Families Act’s passage, there is considerable reason to evaluate the statue’s impact, especially on the lives of mothers behind bars and their children. The distinct conditions of maternal incarceration, and the challenges of maintaining familial ties during a mother’s sentence, were overlooked by the original architects of ASFA—by their own admission.

The Rebecca Project is therefore working on research unearthing the specific ways in which ASFA has a disproportional impact on parents behind bars in the termination of parental rights.

Legislatively, RPHR has worked for the implementation of federal guidelines to state child welfare agencies and department of corrections on how to meet the needs of children in foster care and their incarcerated parents (see attached Second Chance Act of 2007 which contains such federal guideline). Additionally, RPHR is urging for an amendment to ASFA that includes in the definition of “reasonable efforts” for parents behind bars the reasonable time to receive services to maintain their parental rights, when appropriate.