Top Stories of 2018: Terminating the Rights of Parents

States with the highest number of Terminations of Parental Rights, 2006-2015

We’re counting down 10 of the biggest stories The Imprint covered in 2018. Each day, we’ll connect readers with a few links to our coverage on a big story from 2018.

The termination of parental rights by a dependency court is a sign that the system has given up hope that a child can safely return to the home of his or her parents. It is, perhaps, the gravest non-criminal sanction that can be handed down in America’s court systems. As our reporting from 2018 shows, at least some states have gotten more aggressive about moving cases toward that end in recent years.

Lead Read

Bigger in Texas: Number of Adoptions, and Parents Who Lose Their Rights, by Christie Renick, began as a story about how Texas continued to haul in millions each year from the federal government’s adoption incentives program, while almost every other state saw sporadic awards. What we found was that in addition to hard work on finalizing adoptions, the state’s child welfare agency was terminating rights for far more parents than any other state. Between 2006 and 2015, Texas terminated the rights of nearly 100,000 parents.

Also Read

John Kelly on how two states moved legislation that would allow child welfare officials to immediately move opioid-exposed babies towards adoption, starting the termination of parental rights process even before birth.

Vivek Sankaran asks, why the rush toward termination?

John Kelly on several indicators in recent federal data that permanency for foster youth is slowing down, especially when it comes to reunification with parents.

Michael Fitzgerald reports on findings that New York City foster youth linger too long, in part because the city moves slowly on termination of parental rights.

Sara Tiano on a group of Minnesota lawmakers who want to make it harder to terminate the rights of black parents.

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