To help states achieve positive outcomes for children and families, the Children's Bureau monitors state child welfare services through the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), title IV-E foster care eligibility reviews, the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) assessment reviews, and the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) assessment reviews.
The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) collects case-level information from state and tribal title IV-E agencies on all children in foster care and those who have been adopted with title IV-E agency involvement. The purpose of the AFCARS assessment reviews is to more fully assess and evaluate how an agency gathers, records, extracts, and submits its AFCARS data. The AFCARS review process is a rigorous evaluation of the agency's information system and allows the review team to identify problems, investigate the causes, and suggest solutions during the review.
The CFSRs, which are periodic reviews of state child welfare systems, enable the Children’s Bureau to:
- Ensure conformity with federal child welfare requirements
- Determine what is actually happening to children and families as they are engaged in child welfare services
- Assist states in enhancing their capacity to help children and families achieve positive outcomes
Our CFSR factsheet explains the history, purpose, and process of the CFSRs.
After a CFSR is completed, states develop a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to address areas in their child welfare services that need improvement. Our PIP instructions and matrix document provides guidance to states about developing their PIPs.
SACWIS is a federally funded, yet voluntary, case management system. SACWIS is the record hub for children and families receiving child welfare support and contains a complete case management history. After a state's automated child welfare system is operational for approximately 1 year, the Division of State Systems (DSS) conducts a review to assess the system's functionality. SACWIS data are used to support the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process.
The regulatory reviews of the title IV-E Foster Care program determine whether children in foster care meet the federal eligibility requirements for foster care maintenance payments. During these reviews, the Children’s Bureau examines child and provider case records, as well as payment documentation, to validate the accuracy of a state's reimbursement claims of foster care payments. Each eligibility review details the strengths and weaknesses of each state's program and identifies technical assistance that may be needed for program improvement.