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Child Welfare Policy Manual Updates
Deletions to the Manual

The following are questions and answers that have been deleted from the manual. They are listed here strictly for historical purposes.

  • 1.1 AFCARS, Compliance and Penalties
    • 1. Question: How are the penalties calculated for a submission (e.g., the 90% accuracy requirement)? (Deleted July 5, 2002)

      Answer: After an opportunity for corrective action, penalties will be calculated on an element by element basis. If an applicable element is missing, out-of-range, or is part of an internal consistency relationship (as dictated in 45 CFR 1355, Appendix E) that fails, it will be converted to missing and considered in error. The percentage of errors per element will then be calculated using the number of errors across all records per element as the numerator, and the number of records that require that element as the denominator. The denominator will not always be the total number of records for each element; rather, the denominator will be the number of records for which an element requires an entry of information. An entry can include unknowns, not applicable, etc. Also in the Foster Care file, records that meet certain criteria are only required to contain "Core" data; in the Adoption file, records in which the State Agency had no involvement are not required to submit elements 5-37. If the percentage yielded from this calculation is greater than the error standard (in most cases 10%), a penalty will be assessed on the file (i.e., foster care or adoption) in which the element appears. In addition, penalties can be incurred by: No submission of a file; Submission of a file after the 45 day submission period; More than 10% of the records in the foster care data contain a removal transaction (computer-generated) date that is more than 60 days from the associated removal date; More than 10% of the applicable records in the foster care file contain a discharge transaction date that is more than 60 days from the actual date of discharge.
      • 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


  • 1.2B.6 AFCARS, Data Elements and Definitions, Foster Care Specific Elements, Outcome information
    • 1. Question: Some States do not capture information about outcomes except when the children not only are discharged from agency custody, but also the case is closed and the agency is no longer providing any type of services to the family. If this is the case for a particular State, how will penalties be assessed for lack of information? (Deleted July 5, 2002)

      Answer: Outcome information relates specifically to the intended permanent release of a child from foster care. The regulation requires an outcome at the time the child is discharged from agency custody, that is, the agency no longer has care and responsibility or supervision, which serves to explain why the child exited foster care. Failure to supply required outcome information at the appropriate time will be treated as missing data for the purposes of assessing penalties. (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix A, Section I, Roman Numeral X, Questions A and B. Also see: Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Numbers 56 and 58.)
      • 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


  • 1.2B.7 AFCARS, Data Elements and Definitions, Foster Care Specific Elements, Placements
    • 3. Question: If a child is on a trial home visit or has run away as of the end of the reporting period, what is to be reported in the "Date of placement in current foster care setting" field? (Deleted July 5, 2002)

      Answer: "Date of placement in current foster care setting" should be the date the child was placed in the setting from which he/she ran away or left for a trial home visit. The "Current Placement Setting" would be changed to either "Runaway" or "Trial Home Visit". (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Numbers 23 and 41.)
      • 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


    • 14. Question: If a child goes home on a regular basis (e.g., the child is placed in an institution, but goes home to his or her family on weekends), is this considered two placements each week? (Deleted July 5, 2002)

      Answer: As a general rule, the ongoing placement setting for the child is the key placement setting to report. It is best to look at a situation like this for the longer term intent for the child's placement in substitute care. If the child's regular placement setting is in an institution, the weekend visits home are not considered new placement settings as "trial home visits," they are understood to be a temporary situation, while the child resides in the institution. The same reasoning would apply to: A child who stays a day or two in a hospital for medical treatment. (In the case of a boarder baby, whose initial placement is a general hospital for medical treatment and continuing care, the hospital stay WOULD be a placement setting); or a child in foster care who spends a week at a summer camp. (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Number 24.)
      • 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


    • 16. Question: How are children in shelter care indicated on the AFCARS questionnaire? (Deleted July 5, 2002)

      Answer: The placement setting for children in shelter care should be classified by type of facility, i.e., Foster Family Home (Relative and Non-Relative), Group Home or Institution. (See: 45 CFR 1355, Appendix A, Section I, Roman Numeral V, Question A. Also see: Appendix D, Detailed Foster Care, Element Number 41.)
      • 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


  • 2.1A.3 CAPTA, Assurances and Requirements, Access to Child Abuse and Neglect Information, Open courts
    • 2. Question: Some States have enacted laws that allow open courts for juvenile protection proceedings, including child in need of protection or services hearings, termination of parental rights hearings, long-term foster care hearings and in courts where dependency petitions are heard. Questions have arisen about whether courts that are open to the public and allow a verbal exchange of confidential information meet the confidentiality requirements under CAPTA. Do the confidentiality provisions in CAPTA restrict the information that can be discussed in open court? (Deleted April 17, 2006)

      Answer: Yes. The purpose of the confidentiality provision is to protect the privacy rights of individuals receiving services or assistance under this program and to assure that confidential information is not disclosed to unauthorized recipients. Although, under CAPTA, confidential information may be shared with the courts, there is no provision which allows for public disclosure of such information except in cases of child abuse or neglect that result in the death or near death of a child. The confidentiality requirements of CAPTA do not prohibit open courts per se. However, to the extent that the proceedings involve discussion of confidential information from the child abuse and neglect report and record, the confidentiality requirements apply. Accordingly, such information cannot be discussed in a public forum, including an open court. To the extent that confidential information is relevant to the proceedings, it must be discussed in the court's chambers or some other restricted setting, and the pertinent sections of the transcript must be kept confidential as well. Violation of the Federal confidentiality provisions is a State plan compliance issue under CAPTA.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-98-01 (6/29/98)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 471 (a)(8); Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) - section 106; 45 CFR 205.50; 45 CFR 1355.21 (a)


  • 2.1J CAPTA, Assurances and Requirements, Criminal Background Checks
    • 2. Question: Does the requirement at section 106(b)(2)(A)(xxii) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) for criminal background checks for prospective foster and adoptive parents and other adults living in the household apply if no title IV-E foster care or adoption assistance payments are made? (Deleted February 9, 2012)

      Answer: Yes. The CAPTA requirement applies to all prospective foster and adoptive parents licensed or approved under the State?s licensing authority, as well as other adults living in the home, regardless of the funding source for the child's placement.
      • Source/Date: 01/29/07
      • Legal and Related References: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) section 106(b)(2)(A)(xxii)


  • 3. INDEPENDENT LIVING
    • 1. Question: Does title IV-E preclude a State agency from passing on to the child title IV-E funds for his use for his maintenance in an independent living program? (Deleted February 25, 2011)

      Answer: Title IV-E precludes payments made directly to the child or turned over to him by another agency for the purpose of meeting independent living costs. The eligibility of a child for title IV-E is based in part on the fact that he is placed in a family foster home or child care institution as a result of a court determination or voluntary agreement (section 472 (a)(2) of the Social Security Act (the Act)). Federal financial participation is limited to foster care maintenance payments made on behalf of a child described in section 472 (a) of the Act who is in a foster family home or in a child care institution (section 472 (b)). Both "foster family home" and "child care institution" are defined in section 472 (c). Title IV-E does not include "independent living" in these definitions, and it is not considered foster care within the meaning of the Act. Title IV-B may be an alternative source of funding for these independent living programs. Since independent living is not considered foster care, the limitations found in section 423 (c)(1)(B) of title IV-B to foster care payments would not apply.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-83-05 (10/19/83)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 423 and 472; 45 CFR 1355.20


  • 7.3 TITLE IV-B, Programmatic Requirements
    • 6. Question: Are youth 18 and older who are in foster care included in the monthly caseworker visits requirements in sections 424(e)(2)(A) and 436(b)(4) of the Social Security Act? (Deleted December 23, 2011)

      Answer: It depends on the State's age of majority. The title IV-B monthly caseworker visit requirements apply to "children" in "foster care" consistent with the definitions in 45 CFR 1357.10(c) and 45 CFR 1355.20, respectively. As such, the monthly caseworker visits apply to youth 18 and older only if they are in foster care under the placement and care responsibility of the State and have not reached the age of majority as provided under State law.
      • Source/Date: 04/27/07
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act sections 424(e)(2)(A), 45 CFR 1357.10(c), 45 CFR 1355.20


  • 8.1B TITLE IV-E, Administrative Functions/Costs, Allowable Costs - Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program
    • 24. Question: May the State claim a title IV-E foster care maintenance payment for an allowable provider that covers the entire month if a child is temporarily absent for a portion of the month? For example, the child has run away, goes on a weekend home visit, or is hospitalized for medical treatment during some part of the month. (Moved to 8.3B) (Deleted April 28, 2009)

      Answer: Yes. The State may provide a full month's title IV-E foster care maintenance payment to the licensed provider if the brief absence does not exceed 14 days and the child's placement continues with the same provider. Otherwise, the State must prorate its claims if the child is absent from the placement for more than a reasonable brief period.
      • Source/Date: 1/29/2007
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act section 472


  • 8.1F TITLE IV-E, Administrative Functions/Costs, Match Requirements
    • 1. Question: Can third-party in-kind services and donated funds be used as the State's share for matching purposes under title IV-E? (Deleted August 26, 2002)

      Answer: No. Longstanding Federal policy has been to consistently exclude third party in-kind contributions from qualifying as the State share under Federal matching requirements for the title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program. Similarly, we exclude donated funds for matching purposes to the extent that these funds are donated on a restricted basis as to the type of activity for which the funds may be used or if they revert to the organization providing the service.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-84-06 (10/22/84)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 474; 45 CFR Part 1356.60


  • 8.3A.10 TITLE IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, Eligibility, Redeterminations
    • 1. Question: We believe failure to hold a timely redetermination of title IV-E eligibility is a program issue, not an eligibility issue. Is this correct? (Deleted April 27, 2010)

      Answer: You are correct in your assessment that failure to hold a timely redetermination of title IV-E eligibility is a State plan issue (a program issue, as stated in your question) rather than an issue related to the eligibility of the child for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments. Under the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) Program, an eligibility redetermination is a State plan requirement (45 CFR 206.10 (a)(9)(iii)) and not a factor affecting the child's eligibility. While there is no statutory requirement under title IV-E concerning the frequency of eligibility redeterminations, such a procedure should be carried out periodically in order to assure that Federal financial participation is claimed properly. (Section 471 (a)(1) allows for Federal financial participation for foster care maintenance payments only in accordance with the requirements in section 472. Therefore, the State must assure that the child meets those eligibility requirements.) ACYF has advised State agencies that an appropriate period for redetermination would be every 12 months, at which time factors subject to change, such as continued deprivation of parental support and care and the child's financial need would be reviewed and documented. However, if the State agency misses the twelve month eligibility redetermination schedule in certain cases, those cases would not be considered ineligible for Federal financial participation for that reason alone. When the eligibility review is held, however, if the child is found to have been ineligible for any prior month, no claim for Federal financial participation may be made for that month.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-85-06 (6/5/85)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 471 and 472; 45 CFR 206.10 (a)(9)(iii)


    • 3. Question: During the time the child is receiving title IV-E foster care payments, the parental rights of his parents are terminated. The child is subsequently moved into a residential care facility which is not eligible to receive foster care payments and the title IV-E case is discontinued. Later, he is again placed into a foster home and reapplication for title IV-E foster care is made. In considering eligibility for this reapplication, the deprivation at the time of court action, found initially and verified under the old foster care case, can be utilized. However, to meet the requirement of "continues to be eligible", must deprivation with regard to the biological parents again be established or may the termination of parental rights be used to constitute deprivation? (Deleted April 27, 2010)

      Answer: If the child has not returned to his own home and has been continuously in a foster care status since removal from the home (whether or not the facility is eligible to receive payments under title IV-E), a redetermination of eligibility would be appropriate at the time he returned to a facility eligible for Federal financial participation (FFP). A redetermination of the deprivation factor at that tiime would consist of a confirmation that the conditions at the time of removal from the home continued to exist or that termination of parental rights (TPR) had occurred. In the latter case, the TPR would, from that point and throughout this episode of foster care, become the reason for continuing eligibility in terms of the deprivation factor. If, however, the child is not continuously in foster care status and returns to the home of a relative that is considered to be his own home, then a subsequent re-entry into the foster care system requires a new (initial) determination of all eligibility factors. In such a situation, where the child was living in the home of another relative after termination of parental rights and was later removed from the home of that relative, deprivation would then be based upon the absence of the parent(s) from the home of the relative, rather than TPR. (See section 406(a) as in effect on July 16, 1996).
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-86-03 (5/9/86)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 406 (a) and 407 (as in effect on July 16, 1996)


  • 8.3B TITLE IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, Payments
    • 2. Question: Does title IV-E preclude a State agency from passing on to the child title IV-E funds for his use for his maintenance in an independent living program? (Deleted February 25, 2011)

      Answer: Title IV-E precludes payments made directly to the child or turned over to him by another agency for the purpose of meeting independent living costs. The eligibility of a child for title IV-E is based in part on the fact that he is placed in a family foster home or child care institution as a result of a court determination or voluntary agreement (section 472 (a)(2)(A) and (C) of the Social Security Act (the Act)). Federal financial participation is limited to foster care maintenance payments made on behalf of a child described in section 472 (a) of the Act who is in a foster family home or in a child care institution (section 472 (b)). Both "foster family home" and "child care institution" are defined in section 472 (c). Title IV-E does not include "independent living" in these definitions, and it is not considered foster care within the meaning of the Act. Title IV-B may be an alternative source of funding for these independent living programs. Since independent living is not considered foster care, the limitations found in section 424(c) of title IV-B to foster care payments would not apply.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-83-05 (10/19/83)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 424 and 472; 45 CFR 1355.20


  • 8.4A TITLE IV-E, General Title IV-E Requirements, AFDC Eligibility
    • 2. Question: Under the following circumstances, is the child eligible for title IV-E foster care? Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) eligibility for a child is based on incapacity of the parent. In the month following removal, the parent is no longer consider incapacitated. By the time of the twelve month eligibility redetermination, the family is no longer eligible for AFDC. What is the title IV-E status of the child? (Deleted April 27, 2010)

      Answer: The child is not eligible for title IV-E foster care unless the AFDC deprivation requirement is met. Incapacity of a parent is one of the reasons a child may be determined to be deprived of parental support or care under AFDC (reference section 406 (a) and 407 of the Act (as such sections were in effect on July 16, 1996) and 45 CFR 233.90 (c)(1)(i)). Eligibility ends when the parent is no longer incapacitated, unless a different reason for deprivation has emerged, such as death or absence from the home.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-85-07 (6/25/85)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 406 (a) and 407 (as in effect on July 16, 1996); 45 CFR 233.90


    • 3. Question: When continued deprivation cannot be substantiated after initial eligibility has been established because the whereabouts of the parent from whom the child was removed cannot be determined, is the child no longer eligible under title IV-E? (Deleted April 27, 2010)

      Answer: The inability to determine the whereabouts of the parent from whose home the child was removed does not preclude continuing eligibility for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments. At the time of the twelve month redetermination of eligibility, both need and deprivation must be documented. Deprivation of parental support or care may be based on the death, continued absence from the home, physical or mental incapacity of a parent, or at State option, unemployment of the principal wage earner. If the whereabouts of the parent from whose home the child was removed cannot be determined by the State agency at the time of redetermination and documentation in the case record verifies the efforts made to locate the parent(s), then deprivation may be established based on continued absence from the home. However, the continued absence of the parents from the home must be accompanied by factors such as set forth in 45 CFR 233.90 (c)(1)(iii): "...When the nature of the absence is such as either to interrupt or to terminate the parent's functioning as provider of maintenance, physical care, or guidance for the child, and the known or indefinite duration of the absence precludes counting on the parent's performance of the function of planning for the present support or care of the child." While the specific circumstances of either of the parents may not be known to the agency, documentation of their continued absence is required in order to redetermine the child's eligibility for title IV-E foster care. The method for substantiation of the parents' absence is left to State policy and procedure. If the child had been removed from the home of a relative rather than from the parent(s)' home, the relative's home is reviewed at the time of redetermination to establish continuing deprivation of parental support and care. If either or both parents are not in that household at redetermination, then the child is so deprived, based on continued absence of the parent(s) from that home. On the other hand, the continued absence of parents from the home cannot be used as basis for determining that a child is initially deprived of parental support or care, in cases where there is an inability to document that the child had been living in the home of any parent or relative, e.g., in the case of an abandoned child.
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-85-07 (6/25/85)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 406 (a) and 472 (a); 45 CFR 233.90


    • 4. Question: During the time the child is receiving title IV-E foster care payments, the parental rights of his parents are terminated. The child is subsequently moved into a residential care facility which is not eligible to receive foster care payments and the title IV-E case is discontinued. Later, he is again placed into a foster home and reapplication for title IV-E foster care is made. In considering eligibility for this reapplication, the deprivation at the time of court action, found initially and verified under the old foster care case, can be utilized. However, to meet the requirement of "continues to be eligible," must deprivation with regard to the natural parents again be established or may the termination of parental rights be used to constitute deprivation? (Deleted April 27, 2010)

      Answer: If the child has not returned to his own home and has been continuously in a foster care status since removal from the home (whether or not the facility is eligible to receive payments under title IV-E), a redetermination of eligibility would be appropriate at the time he returned to a facility eligible for Federal financial participation (FFP). A redetermination of the deprivation factor at that time would consist of a confirmation that the conditions at the time of removal from the home continued to exist or that termination of parental rights (TPR) had occurred. In the latter case, the TPR would, from that point and throughout this course of foster care, become the reason for continuing eligibility in terms of the deprivation factor. If, however, the child is not continuously in foster care status and returns to the home of a relative that is considered to be his own home, then a subsequent re-entry into the foster care system requires a new (initial) determination of all eligibility factors. In such a situation, where the child was living in the home of another relative after termination of parental rights and was later removed from the home of that relative, deprivation would then be based upon the absence of the parent(s) from the home of the relative, rather than TPR. (See section 406(a) (as in effect on July 16, 1996)).
      • Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PIQ-86-03 (5/9/86)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - sections 406 (a) and 407 (as in effect on July 16, 1996); 45 CFR 233.90


  • 8.4F TITLE IV-E, General Title IV-E Requirements, Criminal Record and Registry Checks
    • 2. Question: Does the criminal background check provision require checks at the State level, Federal level, or both? (Deleted January 31, 2007)

      Answer: The statute is silent with respect to this issue. Therefore, the State may exercise its discretion in choosing whether to conduct criminal records checks at the State or Federal level.
      • Source/Date: Preamble to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (63 FR 50058) (9/18/98)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 471(a)(20); 45 CFR 1356.30


    • 3. Question: Does the criminal records checks provision apply to foster parents and adoptive parents whose licensure or approval predates the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act? (Deleted September 20, 2007)

      Answer: The provision applies to "prospective" foster and adoptive parents. Therefore, the provision applies to foster and adoptive parents who are licensed or approved after the date of enactment of the law (November 19, 1997), or the approved delayed effective date if the State required legislation to implement the provision.
      • Source/Date: Preamble to the Final Rule (65 FR 4020) (1/25/00)
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 471 (a)(20); 45 CFR 1356.30


    • 27. Question: Is a State able to comply with section 471(a)(20)(A) of the Social Security Act (the Act) if the State is unable to take legible fingerprint impressions of the prospective parent to whom the requirements apply? (Deleted July 2, 2007)

      Answer: No. The State cannot comply with the statute if it is unable to obtain legible fingerprint impressions. Section 471(a)(20)(A) of the Act requires States to have procedures for conducting fingerprint-based checks of national crime information databases (NCID) for certain prospective foster and adoptive parents. A fingerprint of the prospective foster/adoptive parent may be taken through whatever means the State chooses, such as the conventional ink method or a "live scan" fingerprint, which is a computer digitized method.
      • Source/Date: 04/24/07
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act section 471(a)(20)(A)


  • 8.5B Guardianship Assistance Program, Eligibility
    • 1. Question: May a title IV-E agency that operates the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) require a child to have resided in foster care with the prospective relative guardian for a minimum period longer than six consecutive months for the child to be eligible for the GAP program? (Deleted March 24, 2010)

      Answer: No. Section 473(d)(3)(A)(i)(II) of the Social Security Act (the Act) provides that an otherwise eligible child must have been eligible for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments while residing in the foster home of the prospective guardian ?for at least 6 consecutive months.? This means that after being in foster care and eligible for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments for six consecutive months while residing with the licensed or approved prospective guardian, an otherwise eligible child is eligible for the GAP. A title IV-E agency may not impose a longer time frame or other eligibility requirements beyond those contained in the statute.
      • Source/Date: 05/29/09
      • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act section 473(d)(3)(A)(i)(II)