ACF Overview

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services whose mission is to promote the economic and social well-being of America’s most vulnerable populations and communities.  ACF’s programs serve a wide variety of groups, including individuals and families with low income, refugees, Native Americans, and many others.  This directory provides an introduction to the range of human services that ACF provides.  ACF’s programs aim to foster:

  • families and individuals empowered to increase their own economic independence and productivity;
  • strong, healthy, and supportive communities that have a positive impact on the quality of life and the development of children;
  • partnerships with individuals, front-line service providers, communities, American Indian tribes, Native American communities, States, and Congress that enable solutions which transcend traditional agency boundaries;
  • services planned, reformed, and integrated to improve needed access; and
  • a strong commitment to working with low-income people, refugees, and migrants to address their needs, strengths, and abilities.

To carry out its activities, ACF awards grants to state and local governments, non-profit groups, faith and community-based organizations, American Indian tribes, and Native American communities.  ACF furnishes technical assistance, guidance, and overall supervision to grantees that, in turn, are responsible for direct delivery of services.

ACF awards two types of grants to implement its programs: mandatory (also known as formula, block or entitlement grants) and discretionary.  Mandatory grants are not subject to competition and are awarded to States, the District of Columbia and federally recognized Tribes and Territories.  Discretionary grants, on the other hand, allow the federal government to exercise judgment or “discretion” in selecting the recipient organization through a competitive process.  States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, federally recognized Tribes and Territories, and public and private non-profit organizations may apply for these grants, based on each program’s particular rules. 

This directory is designed to be useful to both organizations and individuals interested in learning about ACF’s programs. For further information, see the directory’s Office of Regional Operations section for a listing of local offices, or visit the agency’s website at

Current as of: