Although it took longer than in many other aspects of American life, the racial justice reckoning finally may be having an effect on child welfare. As America is forced to take a new look at other draconian, racially biased laws of the 1990s – the “crime bill” and a law to “end welfare as we know it” – there now are calls to repeal the so-called Adoption and Safe Families Act. ASFA targeted the same population, poor people of color (recall the hysteria over "crack babies") through a series of steps to encourage removal of their children and rush to keep them from their parents forever.
But some of those who might support repeal are made nervous by a single data point: the average length of stay in foster care. I’ll address why I believe that hesitation is based on a faulty premise and discuss ways to reduce the length of stay in foster care, without hurting children as ASFA does. But first we need to review why it should be repealed.