History of Major Child Welfare Legislation

            The federal government and the United States Health and Human Services (HHS) are largely responsible for the development of the child welfare system. In 1935 the Social Security Act (SSA) enacted child welfare funding under Title V. However, it was not until 1961 that funding for child welfare expanded to support the removal of children from their homes. Title IV-A , Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDA) became mandatory in all states in 1969. Further expanding child welfare funding in 1974 was the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA effectively turned child welfare into a money-making industry. In 1980 Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Amendments were added; in 2008 the Fostering Connections to Success Act added even more money to promote the removals and adoptions of children.

            Today, in San Francisco county alone, billions of dollars of state and federal money is funneled in through the child welfare system. In 2014, SF County signed the Title IV-E San Francisco Demonstration Project which brings close 1.5 billion dollars per year into the county. However, to qualify for the billions of dollars of child welfare money, the county is supposed to adhere to state and federal guidelines that safeguard children and families, protect civil and constitutional rights, and prohibit discrimination. This is not being observed in San Francisco county and most other counties across the nation. The problem is that too much money is at stake with practically no oversight or accountability.

            Further placing children and families at risk for violations of constitutional rights and discrimination is the format of the dependency court system. Parents are not authorized to demand jury trials and the hearings are confidential; this leaves too much power with no accountability in the hands of the judges. Moreover, disloyal court-appointed attorneys are at little risk for exposure of professional conduct breaches.

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