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Abstract

Hidden in the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 are two words that came to summarize the expectations of the law, typify its vagueness, and predict its controversy-"reasonable efforts." This article explores five factors to clarify the policy implications of the reasonable efforts phrase: " the disproportionately large effects of the requirement for "reasonable efforts;"

  • the unanticipated consequences of the clause;
  • the shift in the locus of control from social service agencies to court authorities;
  • the reduction in discretion for direct and administrative social work personnel; and
  • the social, political, and economic realities that framed the reasonable efforts debate.

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