Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act

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In 1980, Congress passed the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (AACWA) in response to the increasing number of children in the foster care system. This legislation required states to make reasonable efforts to avoid removing children from their homes and to reunite families when removal was necessary. Additionally, the AACWA provided financial incentives for adoption when family reunification was not possible.

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Then, in 1994 Congress passed the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA), which prohibited child welfare agencies from delaying or denying adoptive placements on the basis of race but allowed race as a consideration in placement decisions. In response to criticism that this perpetuated attitudes against interracial adoption, MEPA was amended in 1996 to narrow the circumstances in which race may be considered to those in which specific child needs make race important to successful placement. Counselor Considerations Ethical standards. The American Counseling Association has outlined standards of ethical practice for the mandated reporting of child abuse.

According to the ACA Code of Ethics section B.2.a: The general requirement that counselors keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to protect clients or identified others from serious and foreseeable harm or when legal requirements demand that confidential information must be revealed. Counselors consult with other professionals when in doubt as to the validity of an exception (American Counseling Association, 2014, p. 7). According to this standard, confidentiality is void when the disclosure of information is necessary to prevent harm to clients or when laws require it, as is the case with the mandated reporting of child abuse. It also specifies that counselors should consult with other professionals if they are unsure as to whether or not a breach of confidentiality is appropriate. The ACA Code of Ethics also addresses ethical record keeping practices as it relates to child abuse cases. Section B.6.h states: Counselors store records following termination of services to ensure reasonable future access, maintain records in accordance with federal and state laws and statutes such as licensure laws and policies governing records, and dispose of client records and other sensitive materials in a manner that protects client confidentiality.

Counselors apply careful discretion and deliberation before destroying records that may be needed by a court of law, such as notes on child abuse, suicide, sexual harassment, or violence. (American Counseling Association, 2014, p. 8) Not only should counselors adhere to the overarching legal and ethical policies related to record keeping, but they must take extra precaution when handling documentation that may be needed in legal proceedings, such that related to child abuse. Counselors should carefully consider the consequences of destroying these records and use their best judgment in deciding whether or not to do so. Additionally, the ACA Code of Ethics explains that counselors should protect the confidentiality of minor clients in accordance with laws,

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