Foster Care Drift Essay

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The perception of foster care drift—the phenomenon of children having multiple placements and exiting the foster care system on their own after experiencing prolonged lengths of stay—was first documented in the late 1950s (Maas & Engler, 1959). As a response to this issue, the promotion of permanency planning took hold during the 1970s when child welfare agencies saw an extraordinary increase in the number of children experiencing foster care drift impacting workers in the public child welfare systems (Lahti, 1982; Lahti et al., 1978). To reduce child welfare caseloads, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA) (Pub. L. No. 96-272, § 42 U.S.C. 622, 1980) codified the practice of permanency planning—the process through which …show more content…
The preference for a legal permanent status is predicated on the belief and the empirical evidence that support the notion that vulnerable children are best reared within the realm of a permanent family, where they feel a sense of security, belonging, and bonding to caring adults, rather than in the insecure and temporary environment that foster care provides (Pecora, Whittaker, Maluccio, Barth, DePanfilis, & Plotnick, 2009). AACWA also de-linked the federal foster care program from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) welfare program but kept in place the income eligibility standards. Thus, under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act states are reimbursed for children who were in foster care that also met AFDC income requirements, …show more content…
Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2011). In response to the high number of children in foster care two significant child welfare policy reforms amended the Title IV-E foster care program by decreasing children’s eligibility for federal foster care support and expanding the principles and practices needed to attain permanence. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) replaced AFDC with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Under TANF, children eligible for federal foster care and adoption assistance is based on the eligibility criteria that are linked to poverty standards in place on July 16, 1996 (Allen & Bissell, 2004; Murray, 2005). This PRWORA provision is commonly referred to as the “AFDC lookback” and to date has not been adjusted for inflation. As a result, each year fewer children are eligible for foster care maintenance payments because federal funds to states are reduced. For example, a Pew Charitable Trust (2007) report has shown the numbers of children who are ineligible for Title IV-E foster care financial support has increased from 5,000 children in 1999 to 35,000 children in 2005. In addition to PRWORA provisions, the Adoption and

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