Family, Children and Adult Services Procedure Letter No. 60
April 17, 1998
TO: Family, Children and Adult Services Manual Holders
FROM: Arnold R. Tompkins, Director
SUBJECT: The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (PL 105-89)

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (PL 105-89), signed by the President on November 19, 1997, establishes new child welfare provisions which will require several changes in the state's Title IV-B plan, Title IV-E plan, state legislation, and Ohio Administrative Code rules. PL 105-89 is guided by the following key principles:

  • Safety of children is the paramount concern that must guide all child welfare;
  • Foster care is a temporary setting and not a place for children to grow up;
  • Permanency planning efforts for children should begin as soon as a child enters foster care and should be expedited by the provision of services to families;
  • The child welfare system must focus on results and accountability; and
  • Innovative approaches are needed to achieve the goals of safety, permanency, and well- being.


In order to continue to receive Title IV-B and Title IV-E funds, the state must assure that:

  • Child safety is addressed in case plans and in case reviews.
  • Procedures are developed to facilitate adoptions across state and county jurisdictions.
  • Safety of children is of paramount concern from the point of intake and throughout the life of the case.
  • Reasonable effort's provisions conform to PL 105-89 (contains provision for when reasonable efforts are excused).
  • Criminal record checks are conducted for foster and adoptive parents (state may opt out,
  • suggest other options, or enact a statute that is consistent with PL 105-89).
  • State standards exist to ensure quality services for children in foster care.
  • The state initiates or joins proceedings within a specified time frame to terminate parental rights for certain children in foster care.
  • If a child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the state for 15 of the most recent 22 months; or
  • If a court has determined a child to be abandoned; or
  • If a court has determined that the parent committed murder of another child of the parent, committed voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent, aided or abetted, attempted, conspired, or solicited to commit such a murder/voluntary manslaughter, or committed a felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to a child or to another child of the parent.

When the state files a petition to terminate parental rights, the state must concurrently recruit and approve a family for adoptive placement, if no relative is available. The state may decide not to proceed with termination of parental rights if a relative is caring for the child; there is a compelling reason for not proceeding with the termination of parental rights (outlined in the case plan); or the state has not provided services outlined in the case plan which would have been able to return the child home.

These actions must be taken for 1/3 of the existing caseload within 6 months of the effective date (6/30/99), for 2/3 of the existing caseload within 12 months (12/31/99), and the full caseload within 18 months (6/30/00).

  • Health insurance coverage will be provided for children with special needs for whom an adoption assistance agreement is in effect by January 1, 1999.

By February 13, 1998, Ohio was required to submit a state certification to the regional office of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) indicating which new Title IV-B and Title IV-E plan assurances, listed above, required changes in state statute. Ohio certified that changes would need to be made in state statute regarding case plans, case reviews, facilitating adoptions across state and county jurisdictions, reasonable efforts, health insurance coverage for children with special needs, and initiating or joining proceedings within a specified time to terminate parental rights for certain children in foster care. A request was made to ACF to accept the criminal background check requirements contained in section 2151.86 of the Ohio Revised Code in lieu of the federal criminal background check requirements. The state has until January 1, 1999 to make all necessary changes to state statute.


The department and the Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) have been working to initiate changes in state statute in order to meet the January 1, 1999 deadlines.


The department has done a preliminary review of Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rules to determine which rules and forms require amendment. As rules are drafted they will be disseminated through the county and department clearance process in order to obtain public children services agency (PCSA), private child placing agency (PCPA), and private noncustodial agency (PNA) input.


The department will examine FACSIS to determine what system changes need to occur to comply with PL 105-89.


Section 453 of the Social Security Act was amended to permit child welfare agencies to access the Federal Parent Locator Service in order to assist in locating parents. As of February 1, 1998, public children services agencies (PCSA) were provided with access to the Ohio Parent Locator Service (OPLS) through the Ohio Data Network (ODN). Access is limited to two workers per county. This system provides a mechanism to locate an absent parent or find existing kin in cases where other methods of finding this information have not been successful. Some income information on the removal home is also available.

Counties that have not yet registered may do so by contacting Becky Nichols at (614) 752-6169. Upon registration and the submission of a separate security agreement, Ms. Nichol's will provide the agency with a step by step users manual.


Adoption Incentives

State may be eligible for an adoption incentive award if all of the following conditions are met:

  • There is an approved Title IV-E plan
  • The number of foster child and/or special needs adoptions in the state during a given fiscal year exceeds the base number of foster child adoptions for the prior fiscal year. In FFY 1998 the base number is determined by the average number of foster child adoptions in the state in federal fiscal years 1995, 1996, and 1997; and for subsequent federal fiscal years the number of foster child adoptions in the state in the federal fiscal year for which the number is the greatest in the period that begins with federal fiscal year 1997 and ends with the federal fiscal year preceding such subsequent fiscal year.
  • In FFY 2001 and thereafter, the State provides health care insurance to any special needs child who has an adoption assistance agreement in effect.

Awards will equal a maximum of $4,000 for each foster parent adoption above the base number plus an additional $2,000 for children with special needs, or $2,000 for a special needs child who is not adopted by their foster parent. The base number for children with special needs is calculated, for FFY 1998, by taking the average number of special needs adoptions in the state in FFY 95, 96, and 97; and with respect to subsequent years, the number of special needs adoptions in the state in the fiscal year for which the number is greater in the period that begins with FFY 97 and ends with the fiscal year preceding such subsequent fiscal year.

Incentive awards will be provided in the federal fiscal year succeeding the year earned and can be used until the end of the succeeding federal fiscal year. The adoption incentive award must be used to provide services to children and families as permitted under Title IV-B and/or Title IV-E, but no match funds will be required.

States have yet to receive further guidance on these incentive awards.

Family Preservation and Support Services Program

The Family Preservation and Support Services Program (Subpart 2 of Title IV-B) was renamed the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program. It was reauthorized through FFY 2001.

The state must use a significant portion of its funds for time-limited family reunification services. Time-limited reunification services include individual, group and family counseling; inpatient, residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment services; mental health services; assistance to address domestic violence; services designed to provide temporary child care and therapeutic services for families, including crisis nurseries; and transportation to and from these services; provided services are given to a child who is removed from his home and to the child's parents or primary caregiver to facilitate the reunification of the child. These funds cannot pay for services to a child and his/her family for more than 15 months after the child enters care.

Funds may also be used to provide adoption promotion and support services. Adoption promotion and support services have been defined as services and activities designed to promote more adoptions out of foster care, including pre- and post adoptive services, and activities designed to expedite the adoption process and support adoptive families. Family preservation and community-based support services may also be supported under this funding stream.

The department will be revising OAC rule 5101:2-39-06 to include the time frame provisions for utilization of Title IV-B funds under Emergency Services.

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance

Any child who had been determined eligible for adoption assistance payments prior to the child's adoption, who is currently available for adoption because the prior adoption has been dissolved and the adoptive parents' parental rights have been terminated, or because the child's adoptive parents have died, may be determined eligible for Title IV-E adoption assistance (applies to children adopted on or after October 1, 1997).

Enclosed is a copy of the federal Child Welfare law (Title IV-B and Title IV-E) as amended by PL 105-89. An index of the law is also included. The law, as you can see, is quite lengthy and this transmittal only addresses selected provisions of the law.

The areas of the law which:

  • are shaded in gray reflect new additions to the law.
  • contain strikeouts strikeouts reflect what was previously contained in the law.

As changes are made to OAC rules or forms, they will be disseminated to all agencies for review and comment.