Initiatives & Priorities
Assets for Independence
Assets for Independence (AFI) is a community-based program administered at the federal level by the Office of Community Services (OCS). Utilizing existing individual and community assets, AFI supports innovative projects that build upon these assets to give low-income families a hand up out of poverty. AFI programs feature Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), financial education, and related services that enable low-income people to improve their economic status and become economically self-sufficient.
Early Childhood Development
In an effort to assure quality services for children of all ages, ACF extends its programs to young children and their families. An important step in this work has been the establishment of a more integrated focal point for early childhood at the federal level.
The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development coordinates the partnership of the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care, as well as working with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to administer and coordinate the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. Reflecting what we know about the impact of the early years on long term health and education, this office serves as the liaison to a range of other federal agencies, particularly with the US Department of Education and with other offices within the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Given the importance of state and local activities to early childhood development, we work closely with state partners, particularly the State Advisory Councils, State Child Care Administrators and State Pre-k Directors, as well as with communities promoting a systems approach to early learning and development.
The Office of Human Services Emergency Preparedness and Response (OHSEPR) provides leadership in human services preparedness and response while promoting self-sufficiency of individuals, families and special needs populations prior to, during and after disasters.
ACF’s evaluation policy confirms our commitment to conducting evaluations and to using evidence from evaluations to inform policy and practice. ACF seeks to promote rigor, relevance, transparency, independence, and ethics in the conduct of evaluations. This policy addresses each of these principles.
The American people have long shown their considerable compassion and generosity through a broad range of community-based entities, including a diverse group of faith-based organizations. Faith-based groups provide critical human services, and, in emergencies, they consistently stand shoulder-to-shoulder with government in the first line of response. Our nation is stronger for their work.
ACF recognizes that without the engagement of secular and faith-based nonprofits, community organizations, neighborhoods and wider communities, services will not reach people who need them most. This initiative allows us to build and support partnerships with faith-based and community organizations in order to better serve individuals, families and communities in need.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) law makes health care more accessible and affordable for many Americans. The Department of Health and Human Services is the government’s principal agency for protecting the health of Americans and providing essential human services, especially to our most vulnerable populations.
The conditions in which we are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age affect our health in a variety of ways, creating an undeniable link between health and human services. Through its many human service programs, ACF reaches millions who will be eligible for new or reduced-cost health insurance that could help improve health care and human services access for vulnerable children, families and communities.
The purpose of the Healthy Marriage Initiative is to help couples, who have chosen marriage for themselves, gain greater access to marriage education services, on a voluntary basis, where they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a healthy marriage.
Together with the Department of Health and Human Services, ACF is well-positioned to address many of the challenges faced by the Hispanic community. ACF has identified important strategies to support underserved and/or underrepresented populations. These strategies call for strengthening research and programs targeting these populations and conducting outreach to stakeholders and providers.
ACF has undertaken several research projects focusing on Hispanic populations, including children who are dual language learners or children of migrant and seasonal workers, economic mobility among low-income Hispanic families and identifying and minimizing the impact of restrictive immigration laws on public benefit program and social services.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) envisions children, youth, families, individuals, and communities who are resilient, safe, healthy, and economically secure. ACF has worked for more than a decade to better identify and serve victims of human trafficking, among the most marginalized and under-recognized members of our community. Victims of human trafficking need support to safely rebuild their lives.
The ACF-wide Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery Initiative is a step towards implementing the federal government’s commitment to protecting victims by strengthening coordination across programs and Federal departments.
ACF has made it a high priority to create and encourage greater collaboration and service integration among its programs and agencies. To achieve that integration at the state level, we offer an Interoperability toolkit. Service integration or ‘interoperability’ as it is known today, is gaining tremendous momentum and is transforming the way the public and private sectors plan for change and conduct business. Over the course of the next few years, our health and human service systems will change dramatically, offering enormous opportunities for improving how we do business. This transformation is due, in large part, to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as other technological and business related innovations. Interoperability encourages partnerships and provides incentives for states that integrate services.
Victims of human trafficking need support to safely rebuild their lives. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is named as the agency responsible for helping human trafficking victims get the benefits and services they need.
As part of this effort, the Administration for Children and Family’s Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATIP) of the Office of Refugee Resettlement has initiated the Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking campaign to educate health care providers, social service organizations and the law enforcement community about the issue of human trafficking. The purpose of the campaign is to encourage those individuals who are most to likely encounter victims on a daily basis to look beneath the surface, recognize clues and ask the right questions to help victims.
A critical component of the Rescue & Restore campaign is the creation of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888). Center staff help callers determine if they have encountered victims of human trafficking, identify local resources available in their community and connect victims with local social service organizations so that they can safely begin the process of restoring their lives.
The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative encourages fathers to be present in their children’s lives, taking an active and responsible role in raising and supporting them.
There are many facets of this administration-wide effort. ACF has promoted father involvement and services to fathers throughout its many programs by policy-making, grant-making and technical assistance to states, tribes, grantees and faith-based and neighborhood organizations.
Several of ACF’s major programs—TANF, Child Care, Child Welfare, Child Support Enforcement and Head Start—offer direct funding to federally-recognized tribes. In addition, tribes and other American Indian or Alaska Native organizations are eligible applicants for most ACF competitive grant programs, some of which are specifically designated to tribes.
In addition, the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), offers three specific grant opportunities for federally-recognized tribes and Native American organizations: Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), Language Preservation and Environmental Regulatory Enhancement.