Article on the Disparity Between the States Regarding Termination of Parental Rights

Here. Not ICWA-specific, but an interesting article on the wide difference of the states in terminating parental rights.

Across the country, the availability of effective support services is viewed as crucial in helping reduce the need for foster care placements and parental rights terminations, both of which are considered undesirable outcomes for most children.

Professor Martin Guggenheim, a child welfare expert at New York University School of Law, is among those contending that too many parents lose their rights and too many children go into foster care. Parents’ legal prospects vary widely from state to state when it comes to challenging termination, he says; many who are indigent are represented by court-appointed lawyers with heavy caseloads.

Too often, Guggenheim said, terminations produce “legal orphans” — young people who are separated from their parents, then do not receive a successful adoption placement, and eventually age out of the foster care system on their own.

“They’ve lost their family and gained nothing in return,” he said.

Nationwide, according to federal figures, the number of children affected by parental rights terminations declined from 85,525 to 64,398 between 2005 and 2014, mirroring a broader drop in the number of children placed in foster care. Arizona and Texas were among a handful of states bucking the trend, with more terminations and more children in care.

Figures from Arizona show how difficult it is for a parent to block a termination order once it’s requested by child-welfare officials. In a six-month period last year, 2,232 termination petitions were granted and seven were denied.

As a side note, Professor Guggenheim was one of the lead attorneys on the ICWA/Gold Standard Baby Girl amicus brief.

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