Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 - P.L. 105-89

Date: November 1997


H.R. 867
Enacted November 19, 1997

Major Provisions of the Act

  • Reauthorized the Family Preservation and Support Services program:
    • Renamed it the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program
    • Extended the categories of services to include time-limited reunification services and adoption promotion and support services
  • Defined 'time-limited family reunification services' as the services and activities that are provided to a child who is removed from the child's home and placed in out-of-home care and to the parents or primary caregiver of that child, in order to facilitate the reunification of the child safely and appropriately within a timely fashion (but only during the 15-month period that begins on the date that the child is considered to have entered foster care), including the following:
    • Individual, group, and family counseling
    • Inpatient, residential, or outpatient substance use treatment services
    • Mental health services
    • Assistance to address domestic violence
    • Services designed to provide temporary child care and therapeutic services for families, including crisis nurseries
    • Transportation to or from any of those services and activities
  • Ensured safety for abused and neglected children through the following:
    • Ensured health and safety concerns are addressed when a State determines placement for abused and neglected children
    • Required the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report on the scope of substance use in the child welfare population and the outcomes of services provided to that population
    • Added 'safety of the child' to every step of the case plan and review process
    • Required criminal records checks for foster and adoptive parents who receive Federal funds on behalf of a child, unless a State has opted out of this requirement
  • Accelerated permanent placement of a child in foster care through the following:
    • Required States to initiate court proceedings to free a child for adoption once that child had been waiting in foster care for at least 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless there was an exception
    • Allowed children to be freed for adoption more quickly in extreme cases
  • Promoted adoptions through the following:
    • Rewarded States that increased adoptions with incentive funds
    • Required States to use reasonable efforts to move eligible children in foster care toward permanent placements
    • Promoted adoptions of all children with special needs and ensured health coverage for adopted children with special needs
    • Prohibited States from delaying or denying placements of children based on the geographic location of the prospective adoptive families
    • Required States to document and report child-specific adoption efforts
  • Increased accountability through the following:
    • Required HHS to establish new outcome measures to monitor and improve State performance
    • Required States to document child-specific efforts to move children into adoptive homes
  • Clarified 'reasonable efforts' through the following:
    • Emphasized children's health and safety
    • Required States to specify the circumstances when efforts to prevent foster placement or to reunify a child with their parents are not required
  • Required shorter time limits for making decisions about permanent placements through the following:
    • Required permanency hearings to be held no later than 12 months after the child enters foster care
    • Required States to initiate termination of parental rights proceedings after the child has been in foster care 15 of the previous 22 months, unless the child is in the care of a relative or severing the parent-child relationship is not in the child's best interests