States and tribes are primarily responsible for implementing their own child welfare systems; however, federal laws and regulations provide guidance and structure for their child welfare policies and practices.
Laws - Federal laws set specific guidelines for state and tribal child welfare practice and frequently outline eligibility for federal funding.
Legislation - In order to establish federal laws, legislation must be enacted by Congress. Various pieces of legislation form the foundation for federal child welfare law, such as titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.
Regulatory Actions - Executive branch agencies, such as the Children’s Bureau, may develop regulations to provide more specific guidance on how a piece of legislation will be interpreted and implemented. Regulations are published in the Federal Register, and the public often is given the opportunity to comment on them before they become final.
Last Reviewed: July 30, 2015