Child Welfare Policy Manual

December 03, 2016

1.2A  AFCARS, Data Elements and Definitions, Adoption Specific Elements

1. Question: In terms of reporting adoptions it is not clear whether States are required to submit data on adoptions for which an agency may have limited involvement, such as only performing a home study. The agency's data on these adoptions may be very limited. Does the Department want information on such adoptions submitted to AFCARS?

Answer: The regulations encourage, but do not require, States to report data on children adopted without the types of State involvement indicated in the "Reporting Population" section in Appendix B to 45 CFR 1355. The State is required to report an adoption if : 1) the child was in foster care under the responsiblity and care of the State child welfare agency and subsequently adopted; 2) the child has special needs and on whose behalf the State provided reimbursementfor non-recurring expenses of adoption; or 3) an adoption service or payment is being provided by way of an arrangement with the State agency. Because a State that has performed only a home study does not fall within one of these three categories, the State is not required to report information on such a child. If the State chooses to report information on such a child, or other children adopted without State involvement as indicated above, - the appropriate response is to enter a "No" for adoption element 4 "Did the State Agency Have any Involvement in This adoption?"

2. 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.