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Foster Care Frequently Asked Question #2

Published: September 16, 2012
Adoption, Foster Care

How is the decision to terminate parental rights made?


Very briefly, the “termination of parental rights” involves the ending of the legal parent-child relationship. Once the relationship has been terminated, the child is then legally free to be placed for adoption with the goal of securing a more stable, permanent family environment that can meet the child's long-term parenting needs.

Due to the seriousness and long-term impact of this decision, courts have stringent requirements that must be met prior to making this decision. Every State and the District of Columbia have laws providing for the termination of parental rights. Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, has summaries of the State laws on this topic in Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights online at http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/groundt.... You are encouraged to read the introduction to these statutes that provides valuable background information crucial to the understanding of how these laws impact permanency-planning decisions. This information is not intended to replace or to substitute for professional legal advice.

If you need further explanation of these laws, you may want to contact your local child welfare agency. These professionals can explain the laws, procedures, and policies that apply in your State. If you need help locating your local child welfare agency, the related organizations listing at http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/reslist/rl_dsp_website.cfm?rs_ID=16&... can help you locate the child welfare agency website in your State.

The Federal government does not have the authority to intervene in child abuse and neglect or child welfare cases. State and local agencies and courts make the decisions regarding issues such as child custody, child removal from the home, child placement in foster care, and the termination of parental rights in each State according to State law.