Laws & Policies

The Children's Bureau provides guidance to states, tribes, child welfare agencies, and more on the complex and varied federal laws as they relate to child welfare.

What’s New in Laws & Policies

This page provides resources and information about new federal legislation, regulations, and Children's Bureau policies.

Child Welfare Policy Manual

The Child Welfare Policy Manual contains mandatory policies that are based in federal law and/or program regulations. It also provides interpretations of federal laws and program regulations initiated by inquiries from state and tribal child welfare agencies or ACF Regional Offices.

Policy/Program Issuances

The Children's Bureau issues guidance to title IV-E and title IV-B agencies on the administration of child welfare grant programs in the following formats:

  • Action Transmittals (AT)
  • Information Memoranda (IM)
  • Policy Guides and Manuals (PGM)
  • Program Instructions (PI)
  • Program Regulations (PR)
  • Federal Register Notices

Federal Laws

Title IV-E and IV-B agencies are primarily responsible for implementing their own child welfare programs; however, federal laws and regulations provide guidance and structure for their child welfare policies and practices.

Technical Bulletins

The Children’s Bureau develops technical bulletins to supplement official guidance and assist states and tribes in implementing child welfare policies and practices. Technical bulletins cover a variety of topics, and currently include: the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS), and child welfare monitoring.

Policy Resources

These resources provide additional information about federal legislation as well as state and tribal statutes.