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David Kelly of Family Integrity & Justice Works Responds to Historic Legislation in Child Welfare Requirements

A bill introduced to Congress last week would remove federal requirements for states seeking to terminate parental rights within a specific timeline.

The proposed legislation, the 21st Century Children and Families Act, would allow states to choose if they wanted to eliminate all timeline requirements, excluding cases involving aggravated circumstances. If passed, states couldn’t begin to attempt termination of rights until the children have been in foster care for two consecutive years, barring extreme circumstances.

The 21st Century Children and Families Act would serve as a solution to the issue of the “ticking clock” under current legislation, but also adds sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion to federal nondiscrimination protections. Previously, these requirements only included race and ethnicity; meaning the opportunity to foster or adopt cannot be denied based on these factors.

According to The Imprint, David Kelly, Director of Family Integrity & Justice Works (FIJ Works) at Public Knowledge® (PK) and former U.S Children’s Bureau official called the bill “a critical, long-overdue step toward justice for families.”

“I hope it proves a galvanizing moment for realizing the family children need most is their own,”

David Kelly, Director of Family Integrity & Justice Works at Public Knowledge®

The act retains current requirements that adoptions cannot be delayed matching children with families of the same race, gender, culture, and religion. However, instructs states to consider these factors if requested by the parent or child.

Interested in Learning More About FIJ Works’ Commitment to Replacing Child Welfare?

FIJ Works wants to dismantle the child welfare system completely and replace it with family strengthening solutions; where families receive the help they need without bias, judgment, and off-the-shelf solutions.

We’re Publishing the Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly­—the Inaugural Issue Challenging the Harms of the Adoption and Safe Families Act

Our first issue will publish this month. The goal is to serve as a powerful tool to strategically advance primary prevention and community-based supports for families. This publication takes a bold stance against the norms of the child welfare system.

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