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Child Welfare Policy Manual
User's Guide

How to use the manual: The table of contents (full text) is the guide to the entire manual. It provides a detailed topical breakdown of all the included policy information. The nine main policy areas provide shortcuts to the same targeted policy information. Each main area is then broken down into detailed subsections. There are sections of the manual that are empty of any policy information. These sections are being used as placeholders for future announcements. They are designated by an asterisk (*) following the section title in the Table of Contents. For example: 6. CCWIS *

All of the policy information appears in a question and answer format. For example (from 8.1 TITLE IV-E, Administrative Functions/Costs):

Question: Is the cost of conducting criminal records checks for prospective foster and adoptive parents an allowable administrative cost under title IV-E?

Answer: The regulations at section 1356.60 (c)(2) allow States to claim costs associated with recruitment and licensing as administrative costs under title IV-E. Since the criminal records check provision is a condition of licensure or approval in States that do not opt out of the provision, costs associated with criminal records checks for prospective foster and adoptive parents are allowable under title IV-E when claimed pursuant to an approved cost allocation plan.

  • Source/Date: Preamble to the Final Rule (65 FR 4020) (1/25/00)
  • Legal and Related References: 45 CFR 1356.30 and 1356.60

How to cite the manual: Each section and subsection of the manual has a unique number that identifies it. When citing the manual, cite the section and the subsection in which the question and answer are located.

How to recognize updates and deletions: The information within the manual will change as the Children's Bureau announces new policy. Additions, deletions, and modifications to the manual will be announced on the policy manual main page under Updates!

  • Updated policy will be indicated by an Addition or Modified announcement. For example:
  •         Addition [Date question added] [Text of Question]
            Modification [Date question modified] [Text of Question]

  • Furthermore, any new policy changes that remove a question and answer from the manual will be indicated by a DELETED announcement. For example:

            Deleted [Date question deleted] [Text of question]

How the manual was developed: Using a detailed table of contents as the basis for constructing a database to house all existing policy, the Children's Bureau began by reviewing every Policy Interpretation Question (PIQ) and Policy Announcement (PA), assigning the content to the appropriate sections of the database. While the manual was constructed using existing policy, some of the information is not presented in exactly the same format as it appeared in the original issuance because:

  • Policy Announcements are not constructed in a Question/Answer format, so the information in these documents was reformatted for inclusion in the manual.

  • Some of the early PIQs identified the State that posed the questions addressed. We now maintain the anonymity of a State that raises questions of national significance by removing all State-specific references.

  • We updated some early policy to be consistent with recent statutory amendments. For example, some of the early policy guidance addressing the Title IV-E case review system requirements is still relevant but we updated certain terms to be consistent with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA); i.e., "permanency hearing" rather than "dispositional hearing." For that reason, a policy whose source was a 1980s issuance may contain terminology that is consistent with the ASFA amendments to the Social Security Act.

  • We found some redundancy across and within policy issuances. We consolidated redundant information when appropriate to increase efficiency. When the "Source/Date" field contains more than one policy issuance, that is an indication that the information in that Question/Answer came from multiple sources.

  • Where appropriate, we consolidated information from issuances that modified, clarified, or elaborated on an earlier issuance. For example, PIQ-88-03 clarifies the guidance in PIQ-82-10 with respect to identifying facilities that are primarily for the detention of children who are adjudicated delinquent. We consolidated the guidance from these two issuances into a single Question/Answer set. The "Source/Date" field for that Question/Answer set contains both PIQs, indicating that the information therein came from those two issuances.

  • When we found Question/Answer sets in PIQs that addressed multiple topics, we placed those Question/Answer sets in all appropriate sections of the manual and then struck the irrelevant material leaving a Question/Answer set that pertains to only the section in which it resides. For example, ACYF-CB-PIQ-82-04 explained State's options for funding foster parent insurance. Some of the responses in the PIQ addressed options under titles IV-B and IV-E simultaneously. Those Question/Answer sets were placed in the appropriate sections under titles IV-B and IV-E in the manual and edited accordingly.

  • We reviewed superseded issuances and, on rare occasion, found policy guidance that could be reinstated. For example, ACYF-PIQ-83-07 dealt with unaccompanied refugee minors' eligibility for title IV-E. It was superseded as a result of Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). In reviewing the issuance, we found that, if updated to be consistent with the PRWORA, the information therein is still relevant.

After reviewing the PAs and PIQs, we turned to other sources to identify policy guidance for inclusion in the manual. These sources include:

  • The preamble to the September 18, 1998 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (63 FR, 50058 - 50098) and the preamble to the January 25, 2000 Final Rule (65 FR, 4020 - 4093);

  • The Questions and Answers on the January 25, 2000 Final Rule that were published on our web site; and

  • Information Memoranda (IM) and Program Instructions (PI). While the purpose of IMs and PIs is respectively, to transmit useful information to the field and provide instruction with respect to the implementation of the programs the Children's Bureau administers, occasionally policy guidance was transmitted through an IM or PI. These can be found at

Effective date of the manual: The manual is effective 09/24/01.

How to access the old system: Every PA and PIQ was officially replaced 09/24/01, the date the manual became operational. The Child Welfare Information Gateway has archived the PAs and PIQs and will make them available to the public upon request. Please contact the Information Gateway by telephone at (800) 394-3366 or email at



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