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1.3 AFCARS, Reporting Population
Answer: Foster care is defined in 45 CFR 1355.20 and 1355.40. Section 1355.20 gives the general definition of foster care as 24 hour substitute care for all children placed away from their parent(s) or guardian(s) and for whom the State agency has placement and care responsibility. Section 1355.40 (a)(2), defines the foster care population for AFCARS reporting purposes. Each State's data transmission must include all children in foster care, as defined in section 1355.20, for whom the State title IV-B/IV-E agency has responsibility for placement, care or supervision.
Answer: In general, States are to report all children in foster care and under the placement, care of supervision of the State agency to AFCARS. In the case of youth 18 years of age or over, State must report to AFCARS:
Pursuant to long-standing Departmental policy, States are instructed to exclude those youth who are considered to be adults in a State from the child protection requirements in section 422 of the Act and AFCARS reporting requirements. However, youth who receive title IV-E foster care maintenance payments must be reported to AFCARS and be provided the section 422 protections regardless of whether they have reached the legal age of majority in the State.
Answer: All cases which are open at any time during the reporting period, whether or not there have been any changes in the file, need to be reported. Any cases which are closed, that is, the child is discharged from care, etc., need to be included in the current report only if the closure activity was entered into the system during the current reporting period.
Answer: Yes. Children who are under State custody and in foster care are included in AFCARS regardless of whether or not a payment is made.
Answer: What court the child goes through is not of particular importance. The determining factor is whether the State title IV-B/IV-E agency has placement and care responsibility and/or supervision.
Answer: There are no guidelines or qualifiers related to American Indian children. They are to be included in AFCARS as any other child under the care and responsibility or supervision of the State child welfare agency.
Answer: If the care of the child is under the State child welfare agency (e.g., the private agency is providing care by contract with the State), that child should be included in AFCARS reporting; if it is strictly private, that is, there is no contractual relationship with the IV-B/IV-E agency, do not report on the child.
Answer: Children affiliated with Tribes which have title IV-E agreements with a State are to be included in the AFCARS reporting population. Any child in substitute care in which joint custody exists between the tribal court and IV-B/IV-E agency, is included in the AFCARS reporting population. If an agreement exists the title IV-B/IV-E agency should have access to the necessary records.
Answer: The State which has/had custody of the child or is party to the adoption assistance agreement must submit the AFCARS data.
Answer: The reporting population includes children in emergency care, if the emergency care exceeds 24 hours, regardless of whether the placement and care responsibility or supervision is on the basis of a court order, legislation or regulation.
Answer: Yes. Any child who is returned home on a trial home visit, for a specifically limited period of time and for whom the State agency continues to maintain placement and care responsibility or supervision should be included in AFCARS. If a child is returned home on a trial basis with no specific time period indicated, and the State agency maintains placement and care responsibility or supervision, he or she should be indicated as in foster care for a period of up to six months. After six months such child should be indicated as discharged from foster care and returned home and should not be included in subsequent AFCARS reports unless the child is returned to foster care.
Answer: Children who are removed from their home and initially placed in a juvenile justice facility are not to be included in AFCARS reporting.
For children already in a juvenile justice facility with respect to whom a subsequent court order is signed giving placement, care or supervision to the title IV-E/IV-B agency, the date of the court order will be used as the date of removal from the home.
Children in a foster care setting who are moved to a juvenile justice facility and who are expected to be returned to a foster care setting should continue to be included in the AFCARS reporting population. The child's move into the juvenile justice facility should be reported as a placement change and recorded as an institutional foster care setting.
Children in a foster care setting who are moved to a juvenile justice facility and who become the responsibility of another agency should not be included in the AFCARS reporting population. The date the court order was signed will serve as the date of discharge from foster care and the reason for discharge would be reported as transfer to another agency.
Answer: The agency which currently has placement and care responsibility or supervision should report on the child. If there is joint responsibility (e.g., both the juvenile justice agency and the child welfare agency) then the child welfare agency should report on the child.
Answer: Yes. These children should be included in the AFCARS reporting population.