American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review - Volume 58


Used by permission.


The year 2022 marks the 25th anniversary of President Clinton signing into law the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). Enacted in November of 1997, ASFA was a bipartisan federal law intended to address concerns with the foster care and adoption systems.1 With fiscal incentives attached, states quickly adopted complementary ASFA legislation.2

At its core, ASFA changed the primary objective from family reunification to the child’s health and safety. In doing so, ASFA sought to decrease the amount of time a child spent without a permanent home by limiting how long a child could spend in foster care. Referred to as the 15/22 timeline, ASFA required a state to file or join a petition to terminate parental rights (TPR) when a child had been in out-of-home placement for fifteen of the most recent twenty-two months.