The legislature recognizes that the health and safety of children is of paramount importance. To the extent it is consistent with the health and safety of the child, the legislature further hereby finds that:
It is desirable for children to grow up with a normal family life in a permanent home and that such circumstance offers the best opportunity for children to develop and thrive;
It is generally desirable for the child to remain with or be returned to the birth parent because the child's need for a normal family life will usually best be met in the home of its birth parent, and that parents are entitled to bring up their own children unless the best interests of the child would be thereby endangered;
The State's first obligation is to help the family with services to prevent its break-up or to reunite it if the child has already left home; and
When it is clear that the birth parent cannot or will not provide a normal family home for the child and when continued foster care is not an appropriate plan for the child, then a permanent alternative home should be sought for the child.
The legislature further finds that many children who have been placed in foster care experience unnecessarily protracted stays in such care without being adopted or returned to their parents or other custodians. Such unnecessary stays may deprive these children of positive, nurturing family relationships and have deleterious effects on their development into responsible, productive citizens. The legislature further finds that provision of a timely procedure for the termination, in appropriate cases, of the rights of the birth parents could reduce such unnecessary stays.
It is the intent of the legislature in enacting this section to provide procedures not only assuring that the rights of the birth parent are protected, but also, where positive, nurturing parent-child relationships no longer exist, furthering the best interests, needs, and rights of the child by terminating parental rights and freeing the child for adoption.
Not addressed in statutes reviewed
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