New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Archive for May 17th, 2011

‘What Will Happen to Me?’

May 17, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Politics, Victoria Law

Restoring Justice for the Children of Incarcerated Parents

by Victoria Law

In 2004, I facilitated a discussion on incarcerated mothers at the MamaGathering, an alternative parenting conference in Minneapolis. The 20-plus parents who attended the discussion were politically conscious, if not politically active. Among them was a social worker who worked with children in foster care.

In 1997, Congress passed the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), which stipulated that states must begin terminating the legal rights of parents whose children are in foster care for 15 of the past 22 months. The termination is irrevocable. Only three states made exceptions in cases of parental incarceration; the third state, New York, only passed its discretion act in August 2010.

The results were dramatic: termination proceedings involving incarcerated parents increased 108 percent nationwide from 260 in 1997 to 909 in 2002. In contrast, in the five years before ASFA, the number of termination proceedings increased from 113 in 1992 to 142 in 1996. (more…)