Child Welfare Policy Manual

April 18, 2014

1.2B.2  AFCARS, Data Elements and Definitions, Foster Care Specific Elements, Child's demographics

1. Question: What if a parent refuses to disclose whether or not a child has been previously adopted?

Answer: If a parent refuses to answer this question, "Unable to Determine" would represent the correct response. (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix A, Section I, Roman Numeral II. Also see: Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Number 16.)

2. Question: AFCARS requires race/ethnicity information on all children. But if a child is identified as Hispanic, what information is entered for the race question?

Answer: If a child is identified as Hispanic or "Latino" in element number 09, then his/her ethnicity should also be further clarified, using element number 08, according to how the child or the child's parents define him/her. (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix A, Section I, Roman Numeral II, Questions C.1 and C.2. Also see: Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Numbers 8 and 9.)

3. Question: Should the FIPS code be that of the child's place of residence or that of the agency responsible for the case?

Answer: The FIPS code should be the agency's not the child's place of residence. (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Number 3)

  • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-95-01 (3/8/95)
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 479; 45 CFR Parts 1355, 1356 and 1357
4. Question: AFCARS reporting requires all data submissions to be in numeric format, however, the data element definitions, both for foster care and adoption, indicate the use of the U.S. Postal Service's two letter State abbreviation. What should be used?

Answer: A numeric code is to be used for the State identification. It is the first two digits of the State's Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS). (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix A, Section I, Roman Numeral I, Question D. Also see: Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Number 4.)

  • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-94-01 (7/8/94)
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 479; 45 CFR Parts 1355, 1356 and 1357
5. Question: In the AFCARS regulation at section 1355.40 (b)(2) there is a reference to the most recent date of a periodic review (either administrative or court) being entered for children who have been in foster care for nine months or more and other references indicate seven months. Is this a typographical error?

Answer: No. It is not a typographical error. Section 422 of the Social Security Act requires periodic reviews at least every six months; in practice, a 30 day grace period has been allowed, resulting in a seven month period in which to complete a review without penalty. For AFCARS reporting this fact, coupled with the intention to allow 60 days to enter the date associated with the review, results in a nine month time frame for entry of information about the periodic review. Therefore, any child in foster care at least nine months must have a periodic review date entered into the AFCARS report.

In summary, the review must take place within seven months of the child's entry into the foster care system (or of the last periodic review). The review date must be entered into the system within 60 days of the review date. This results in the nine month time frame referenced in the regulation.

  • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-94-01 (7/8/94)
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 479; 45 CFR Parts 1355, 1356 and 1357
6. Question: What procedures should a child welfare worker follow in order to most effectively obtain accurate information on the racial and ethnic status of children and adults?

Answer: AFCARS requires the reporting of race and Hispanic/Latino Origin on children in foster care, children who have been adopted, foster care providers, and adoptive parents. As noted in Appendices A and B of the Federal regulations at 45 CFR 1355, in the sections related to the instructions for foster care and adoption data elements, race and Hispanic/Latino origin information is based on how a client/adult perceives him/herself, or in the case of young children, how the parent identifies the child. This means the information on race and Hispanic/Latino Origin is to be self-reported by the individual. Additionally, racial and ethnic information should be collected and stored as separate pieces of information about the client.

Workers must ask clients this information and not make assumptions on which and how many races a person may be and whether the client is Hispanic or Latino or not. When a worker, rather than the client, makes this determination, he or she may be under-representing all possible races.

For AFCARS extraction and submission purposes, information not collected or not available for a particular client record (for whatever reason) is mapped as all blanks (not all zeros, all 9?s, etc.). Missing information should never be mapped to a valid AFCARS value.

  • Source/Date: 7/19/04
  • Legal and Related References: Section 479 of title IV-E of the Social Security Act; 45 CFR 1355, Appendix A, Section II Definitions and Instructions for Foster Care Data Elements, II. Child┐s Demographic Information, c. Race/Ethnicity and Appendix B, Section II Definitions and Instructions for Adoption Data Elements, II. Child┐s Demographic Information, c. Race/Ethnicity