The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Children’s Bureau (CB) is responsible for the implementation and management of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). State and Tribal title IV-E agencies are required to report AFCARS case-level information on all children in foster care and children who have been adopted with title IV-E agency involvement (per §479 of the Social Security Act). The regulations Visit disclaimer page were updated via the final rule published in May 2020. 

AFCARS Data Uses

AFCARS was established to provide data that would assist in policy development and program management. Data can be used by policymakers at the federal, Tribal, and state levels to assess: how many children are in foster care, reasons why they enter, how they exit, and to develop strategies to prevent their unnecessary placement into foster care. Specifically, the data include information about children who enter foster care, their entries and exits, placement details, and foster/adoptive parent information, which makes it possible to identify trends.

The data enable the Children’s Bureau to administer the federal title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance programs more effectively. The Children’s Bureau and ACF use these data for a number of purposes, including:

  • responding to Congressional requests for current data on children in foster care or those who have been adopted;
  • responding to questions and requests from other Federal departments and agencies, including the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), national advocacy organizations, States, Tribes, and other interested organizations;
  • developing short and long-term budget projections;
  • developing trend analyses and short and long-term planning;
  • targeting areas for greater or potential technical assistance efforts, for discretionary service grants, research and evaluation, and regulatory change; and
  • determining and assessing outcomes for children and families.

Additionally, the AFCARS data are used specifically in the: