Parental sobriety and Parent-Child reunification in dependency court: Does the 15-month Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) rule support parent-child reunification?

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Abstract

With the number of Americans suffering from addiction at an all-time high, child protective and social services agencies need a coordinated response to ensure that children spend less time in foster care. The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 sought to improve the permanency process by specifying a timeline to parental reunification. The ASFA 15-month rule places limitations on the time frame in which a parent must achieve sobriety before parent-child reunification can occur. The present study assesses the impact of the ASFA 15-month rule on children’s permanency outcomes among children placed in out-of-home care due to parental substance use. First, we examine whether there are differences in permanency outcomes across the various circumstances that lead to out-of-home placements. Next, we explore whether child characteristics influence parent-child reunification based on the reason for out-of-home placement. Results show that alternate permanency solutions to parental reunification are more likely for younger children and when multiple children are removed from the home. Implications for these findings are discussed, as are directions for future research.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Law
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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