Fostering Connections

On October 7, 2008 the President signed into law the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893/P.L. 110-351). This new law will help connect foster children with their relatives, promote permanent families through relative guardianship, and improve education and health care. This new law will promote permanent families for children by providing:

  • Subsidized guardianship to enable children in the care of grandparents and other relatives to exit foster care into permanency
  • Kinship navigator programs to help link relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports that will help meet their needs and the needs of the children in their care
  • Notice be given to adult relatives of a child if he or she is placed in foster care
  • States the option to waive non safety related licensing standards for relative foster parents

The law also supports children and families by:

  • Extending direct Title IV-E funding to tribal government
  • Reauthorizing the Adoption Incentives Program, a critical tool in helping children become adopted
  • Allowing states the option to receive federal reimbursement for support provided to foster youth up to age 21
  • Requiring reasonable efforts to keep siblings together or if not placed together to visit regularly
  • Promoting educational stability for children and youth in foster care, guardianship and adoption
  • Requiring health care coordination for children and youth in foster care
  • Extending federal support for training of professionals and caregivers working with children in the child welfare system

More Information about Fostering Connections

Adoption and Safe Families Act

On November 19, 1997, the President signed into law (P.L. 105-89) the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, to improve the safety of children, to promote adoption and other permanent homes for children who need them, and to support families. This new law makes changes and clarifications in a wide range of policies established under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (P.L. 96-272), the major federal law enacted in 1980 to assist the states in protecting and caring for abused and neglected children.

Some highlights include:

The new law redefined "reasonable efforts" to (a) emphasize children's health and safety, (b) require states to specify situations when services to prevent foster placement and reunify families are not required, and (d) reaffirm certain specific situations of severe inflicted harm to children where reasonable efforts to preserve families are not required.

Federal statutory language concerning case plans and six-month reviews is amended to ensure that the issue of child safety is specifically addressed.

States are required to initiate or join termination of parental rights proceedings for children who have been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months.

States are required to provide notice and the opportunity to be heard -- to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, and relatives caring for children -- in all reviews and hearings.

Where the permanency plan for a child is adoption or placement in another permanent home, case plans are to document steps the agency is taking to secure such permanent home.

Permanency hearings are to be held earlier and be more decisive.

View the ASFA

Child Protective Services Law

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was signed into law in 1975 and has been amended several times. The amendments were intended to further enhance the protection of children from abuse and re-abuse; to provide rehabilitative services to ensure the child's well-being; and to preserve, stabilize and protect the integrity of family life, whenever appropriate.

Although many licensed professionals have been mandated to report suspected abuse since initial passage of the CPSL, the amendments were intended to encourage more complete reporting.

Persons under the jurisdiction of the Department's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs who are required to report include, but are not limited to, any licensed physician, osteopath, psychologist, funeral director, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor, podiatrist, intern, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons, social service workers and mental health professionals. In addition, any licensed professional may make such a report if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused.

A person required to report a case of suspected child abuse who willfully fails to do so commits a summary offense for the first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for a second or subsequent violation.

View the Child Protective Services Law

Additional resources on CPSL

Juvenile Act

The purpose of the Juvenile Act is:

  • To preserve the unity of the family whenever possible or to provide another alternative permanent family when the unity of the family cannot be maintained.
  • To provide for the care, protection, safety and wholesome mental and physical development of children coming within the provisions.
  • Consistent with the protection of the public interest, remove from children committing delinquent acts programs of supervision, care and rehabilitation which provide balance attention to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed and the development of competencies to enable children to become responsible and productive members of the community.
  • To achieve these purposes in a family environment whenever possible, separating the child from parents only when necessary for his/her welfare, safety or health or in the interests of public safety.
  • To provide means through which the Act’s provisions are executed and enforced, and in which the parties are assured a fair hearing and their constitutional and other legal rights are recognized and enforced.

View the Juvenile Act