The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 and the Adoptions Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 have imposed conflicting mandates on the public child welfare system. CAPTA places the moral weight of the federal government behind professional intervention with troubled families, while the Adoptions Assistance Act was designed to protect the autonomy of families. As these policies currently stand, the goal of protection of vulnerable children is seriously undermined.

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