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Elizabeth Bartholet, The Challenge of Children's Rights Advocacy: Problems and Progress in the Area of Child Abuse and Neglect, 3 Whittier J. Child & Fam. Advoc. 3 (2004).

Abstract: This article, originally delivered as a speech, sums up problems and progress in four key areas of central importance to dealing with child abuse and neglect. The article focuses on law and policy in the United States, noting that the U.S. seems to be joining the rest of the world in moving, however haltingly, in a more child-friendly direction. We have developed some early home visitation programs, designed to help fragile families at risk for abuse and neglect - programs which have demonstrated impressive success in preventing maltreatment, and are receiving increasing public and private support throughout the nation. We have passed national legislation - the Multiethnic Placement Act or MEPA - designed to eliminate the race matching of children in need of homes with prospective parents, which served to delay and deny adoptive placement for many minority race children. We have passed other national legislation - the Adoption and Safe Families Act or ASFA - designed to facilitate the adoptive placement of children previously held for extended periods in foster care, and to balance the prior emphasis on family preservation with a new emphasis on children's interests in growing up in a nurturing home. We have begun to confront the problem of parental substance abuse, creating family drug courts and initiating other reforms designed to ensure that either parents engage successfully in substance abuse treatment so that they can adequately parent their children, or otherwise the children move on to adoptive placement. The article emphasizes that controversy surrounds all these reform moves, and that progress in a child-friendly direction depends on the energy and commitment of child advocates.