August 3, 2010
Written by Toni Hoy, Illinois adoptive parent
ASFA’s Original Goals
The Adoptive and Safe Families Act of 1997 was established with three goals and five principals in mind. The goals were safety, permanency, and well-being. The principals were as follows (ASFA Goals):
Safety is the paramount concern that must guide all child welfare services.
Foster care is temporary.
Permanency planning efforts should begin as soon as the child enters care.
The child welfare system must focus on results and accountability.
Innovative approaches are needed to achieve the goals of safety, permanency, and well-being
In 1997, President Clinton challenged states to double the number of adoptions within five years. Illinois met his goal in the first year. States receive millions of dollars from the federal government for the purpose of increasing adoptions.
FACT: Adoption Excellence Awards
2002 Illinois took the lead winning 5 of 18 awards
2003 Illinois won 3 more awards including One Church, One Child
FACT: From 1996-2000, adoptions rose 78%.
The ASFA Generation Enters Puberty
Thirteen years later, numerous children are re-entering the system because
foster/adopt parents cannot gain access or funding for their mental, behavioral,
and emotional needs due to pre-adoptive trauma, neglect, physical abuse, and
According to the Child Welfare League of America, studies show that mental,
emotional, and behavioral disorders have a direct correlation with the trauma of
being in the system due to:
Prenatal substance abuse effect
Post natal or infant neglect or physical abuse
Trauma of being placed
Impermanence resulting from multiple foster care placements
According to CWLA
FACT: 70% of foster children have behavioral disorders
FACT: 1/3 foster children have severe emotional disorders
Families Hit the Wall
Families are unable to access the degree of intensive in-home and community based services to maintain safe living standards in their homes. Residential treatment, even when recommended by numerous therapists and other medical professionals, is almost impossible to obtain without trading custody rights in exchange.
According to a study by the U.S. General Accounting Office, 12,700 children became wards of the state or entered the juvenile justice system because of their mental and/or emotional conditions could not be controlled in a family setting with the aid of outpatient services. Only 28 states responded, none of which had the highest number of children. Most were male, adolescents, had multiple problems, and were a danger to self or others.
According to the report, these children, who came from all income levels, stressed their parents and sibling to an unhealthy degree, made it difficult for parents to nurture and care for their other children, and made it difficult for parents to hold jobs.
According to Illinois Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council 2009
FACT: 32% of Individual Care Grant applicants were ADOPTIVE children
FACT: 18% Individual Care Grant applicants were approved. (In 2009, 807 families applied, 255 were reviewed, 48 were approved)
FACT: 94% children were DENIED medically necessary residential treatment as prescribed by a practitioner of the healing arts.
FACT: Illinois licenses residential treatment for children with drug and alcohol addictions, but not mental and behavioral disorders, rendering the available residential treatment centers Medicaid ineligible.
FACT: Post Adopt families cannot maintain safe living standards in their homes while wasting years seeking futile attempts at funding sources through LEA funding, Individualized Care Grant, and DCFS Post Adopt Protocol.
FACT: Families are being forced to seek safety for their families by trading their custody rights for mental healthcare.
FACT: Families are being encouraged to relinquish custody by mental health professionals, who are unable to help the children on an out-patient basis.
Heart Wrenching Choices
When parents have exhausted all out-patient services and come to the realization that their child must receive treatment in a residential behavioral health center, in order to protect themselves and their other children, they are left with four agonizing choices:
Pay $150,000 per year Unable or go bankrupt
Bring the child home Subject family to danger
File criminal charges against child Punishment vs. treatment
Leave child at a psych hospital Charged withneglect/abuse
Aftermath of Custody Relinquishment
Parents are subject to a DCFS Neglect/Abuse Investigation
Parents are falsely accused of neglect and/or abuse
Parents may be falsely indicated of neglect or abuse
Juvenile Court may elect to amend the charges to no fault dependency
No fault dependency cases are viewed in Juvenile Court similarly to neglect/abuse cases, stigmatizing loving parents
DCFS replaces parents in normal parenting decisions
Parents are subject to ongoing re-investigation and re-interrogation
CASA, GAL, DCFS, and the state’s attorney may side against the parents
Juvenile Court may elect to terminate parental rights
Mal-effect on Children
Foster-Adopt children are abandoned for the SECOND time
Children spend months in limbo during child welfare processing
Foster-Adopt children are kept in the dark during these months
DCFS does not allow visits during this period of time, frightening children
DCFS houses children in gang infested group homes vs. residential centers
DCFS may move the child multiple times
Child experiences loss of his main support system
Child manipulates new adults for self gain, causing setbacks in treatment
DCFS removes children from homes where adults are unsafe to children
DCFS leaves children in homes where children are unsafe towards siblings
DCFS puts adoptive families together through adoption
DCFS has no plan for preserving families who adopted children with the most intensive needs
DCFS boasts the “best interests of the child”
DCFS takes away the child’s strongest support system, his family
Child has bonding and attachment issues due to pre-adoptive neglect
Separation from family increases vs. decreases bonding and attachment issues
Child was promised permanency
Child’s permanency falls under constant threat
Child was promised family security
Child suffers grief and loss of permanency, after experiencing prior grief and loss, possibly multiple times
Foster children have access to intensive and residential treatments
Adoptive children do not have access to intensive treatment while preserving permanency
Please check back soon for the rest of Toni’s research.