Child welfare and the civic minimum

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3 Scopus citations


The Adoption and Safe Families Act was signed into law in 1997, less than a year after the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Both laws outline dramatic changes in American social policy, but taken together, they represent an even more fundamental philosophical shift. Like PRWORA, ASFA establishes standards for personal behavior, attenuates rights claims because of these standards, and sets comparatively severe and time sensitive consequences if those standards are not met. Both acts thus reinforce the idea that there are minimum civic responsibilities that obtain for all Americans. But they also endorse the claim that government has some reciprocal burden to help make sure citizens can meet these responsibilities. In the current political landscape, the notion of reciprocity offers the best argument for advancing the cause of child welfare, and poor families generally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-636
Number of pages19
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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