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Home > Practice Areas > Adoption > The Adoption and Safe Families Act


The Adoption and Safe Families Act

What does it mean for adoption?

On November 19, 1997, the President signed into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89), designed to promote adoption and support families. The Child Welfare League of America was in the forefront of the advocacy efforts to secure passage of this legislation. Several of the most important adoption provisions include:
  • Expansion of Health Care Coverage to Non-IV-E Eligible Children with Special Health Care Needs. The new act requires states to provide health insurance coverage for more children with special needs who are receiving state subsidies. The hope is that HHS will define eligibility and the package of basic services as broadly as possible. As currently defined in the Act, some children usually considered to have special needs--such as sibling groups and older children--may be excluded from this expansion of medical care since they may not have special health care needs.

  • Adoption Incentive Payments to States. The Act authorizes $20 million for each of FY 1999-2003 for payments to eligible states that increase the number of children adopted. The incentives are for the adoption of children in foster care, with a $4,000 incentive when the child has no special needs, and $6,000 when the child has special needs. The hope is that states will use the bonuses to provide for adequate staffing and sufficient staff training to ensure high quality adoptive placements. Otherwise, the pressure to increase the number of adoptions may lead to an increase in the number of disruptions.

  • Continuation of Eligibility for the Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance Subsidy for Children Whose Adoption is Disrupted. Any child who was receiving a federal adoption subsidy on or after October 1, 1997, shall continue to remain eligible for the subsidy if the adoption is disrupted or if the adoptive parents die. While this provision will impact a relatively small number of children, it is an exceedingly important provision for those particular children and families.

  • Requirement that States to Document Efforts to Secure Adoption for Children. States are now required to make reasonable efforts and document child-specific efforts to place a child for adoption. The law also clarifies that reasonable efforts to reunify a child with his or her family and reasonable efforts to secure an adoptive family for a child, if needed, can go on concurrently.
Since passage...

States are already in the process of implementing this complex legislation. On January 8, 1998, the HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) issued initial guidance to states in the form of a Program Instruction for implementing the new act. Some provisions became effective immediately upon enactment; others, which may require state legislative changes, will not go into effect until after the close of the next regular sessions of the various state legislatures.

For additional information on the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, please call 202/638-2952 and ask for the Public Policy Division.

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