Initiatives & Priorities
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.
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.
The department 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 purpose of this 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.
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.
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is designated as the agency responsible for helping victims of human trafficking become eligible to receive benefits and services so they may rebuild their lives safely in the U.S.
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 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.