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2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 4, No. 3
June 1999

ASFA (Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997) and MEPA (Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994): Implications for Recruiting Parents

  • Understand the law as it relates to race and recruitment of foster and adoptive parents. Based on the amendment to MEPA, no county or state agency may routinely use race, color, or national origin as the basis of placement decision. However, the law does not prohibit targeted recruitment of foster or adoptive parents from specific racial or ethnic groups. But "targeted recruitment cannot be the only vehicle used by a State to identify families for children in care, or any subset of children in care, e.g., older or minority children."

  • Consider recruiting more parents willing to foster/adopt.In response to the time frames talked about in ASFA and North Carolina's own goal of finding a permanent home for every child within one year, more agencies are finding it beneficial to seek families who are willing to consider adopting their foster child.

  • Be careful how you use culture in assessing foster and adoptive parents. Agencies should not use routine cultural assessments or generalizations about a parent's cultural group in a manner that would circumvent the prohibition against the routine consideration of race, color, or national origin. Consideration of a family's preferences and competence with regard to culture and race is only permissible within the context of individualized placement decisions.

  • Offer cultural competency training and support for parents. Parents who foster or adopt children of an ethnicity different from their own may benefit from training that shows them how to help their children stay in touch with their ethnic and cultural heritage.

  • Make it clear to birth parents or other family members that you cannot honor a request to place a child with foster or adoptive parents of a particular race or ethnicity. This is true regardless of whether the child was voluntarily or involuntarily placed with DSS.

  • Ensure that home-finding agencies your agency contracts with understand that they may not dissuade or otherwise counsel a potential foster or adoptive parent to withdraw an application or not pursue foster parenting or adoption, even if he or she has unsatisfactory cultural competency skills.


"Answers to GAO QUESTIONS Regarding the Multiethnic Placement Act" <>

Want to Know More?

Register to attend "Measure Twice, Cut Once: Using MEPA/IEP to Develop Foster Family Recruitment and Retention Strategies." Offered by the N.C. Division of Social Services, Children's Services Section, this three-day training session teaches you how to plan and implement an effective, inclusive, and non-discriminatory foster parent recruitment effort in your county. For more information consult your staff development training calendar.


1999 Jordan Institute for Families