The Adoption and Safe Families Act was passed by United States Congress in order to improve the current state of the adoption of children with special needs. The Adoption and Safe Families Act was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1997. This Act addressed children not being able to receive the proper placement that they need. The Adoption and Safe Families Act provided some necessary funding for the process of adoption in order to ensure that a child would be adopted into the right family.
One of the major obstacles that was most commonly faced before this Adoption and Safe Families Act was the fact that the focus of a previous bill, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, gave heavy implications that a child should be placed with a biological family member if the option was available. The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 worked to expand these options so that children can be placed in a loving family, whether a biological relative or not.
One of the improvements that the Adoption and Safe Families Act made was to encourage states to authorize adoption in those cases where it was proven that an adoption placement was right for a child, without automatically giving priority to a relative of the child. The Act offered a financial incentive for states that were able to offer placement for children. If a state exceeded the average number of adoptions that were expected to be made, it would be entitled to financial compensation for the additional number of adoption placements made.
Another major improvement that the Adoption and Safe Families Act made was to enforce documentation of the adoption process. It was already a requirement that the process be accounted for in written copy, but the Adoption and Safe Families Act was able to reinforce and strengthen this requirement.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act also made some rather significant changes for the standard of care for children with special needs. One of the more specific efforts that was made was to require that every state supply health insurance for children with special needs in state custody.
In addition, the Adoption and Safe Families Act adjusted the time frame in which a child should be offered permanent placement. Instead of a child’s permanency hearing being scheduled within a period of 18 months of being in state custody, it was reduced to a year to best serve displaced children.