Child Welfare Policy Manual

December 06, 2016

1.2A.3  AFCARS, Data Elements and Definitions, Adoption Specific Elements, Child's demographics

1. 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 B, Section I, Roman Numeral I, Question A. Also see: Appendix D, Detailed Adoption, Element Number 01.)

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.