Laws & Policies

The Children's Bureau provides guidance to states, tribes, child welfare agencies, and more on the complex and varied federal laws as they relate to child welfare.

What’s New in Laws & Policies

This page provides resources and information about new federal legislation, regulations, and Children's Bureau policies.

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Policy Resources

The following resources provide additional information about policy manuals, federal legislation, as well as state and tribal statutes.

Laws, Legislation, and Regulatory Actions

Federal Laws

Federal laws set specific guidelines for state and tribal child welfare practice and frequently outline eligibility for federal funding.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) - This document presents CAPTA as amended by P.L. 115-271, the Substance Use—Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act or the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, enacted October 24, 2018. The text includes the Adoption Opportunities program.

Compilation of Titles IV-B, IV-E and Related Sections of the Social Security Act - This compilation includes the titles IV-B, IV-E, and related sections of the Social Security Act as amended by section 305 within Title III, Division CC of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260, enacted December 27, 2020.

Legislation

Legislation must be enacted by Congress to establish federal laws. Various pieces of legislation form the foundation for federal child welfare law, like titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.

The following resources provide information about federal child welfare legislation, including the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA):

This is a list of recently passed child welfare legislation. The Government Printing Office Visit disclaimer page  and Congress.gov Visit disclaimer page  provide access to the official public laws.

  • P.L. 115-271 - Substance Use—Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act or the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act
  • P.L. 115-123 - Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (also Family First Prevention Services Act)
  • P.L. 115-119 - RAISE Family Caregivers Act
  • P.L. 114-198 - Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016
  • P.L. 114-22 - Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015
  • P.L. 113-183 - Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act
  • P.L. 112-34 - Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011
  • P.L. 111-320 - CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010
  • P.L. 111-148 - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • P.L. 110-351 - Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
  • P.L. 109-432 - Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-288 - Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-248 - Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-239 - Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-171 - Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
  • P.L. 109-113 - Fair Access Foster Care Act of 2005
  • P.L. 108-145 - Adoption Promotion Act of 2003
  • P.L. 108-36 - Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003
  • P.L. 107-133 - Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001
  • P.L. 106-279 - Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000
  • P.L. 106-177 - Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000
  • P.L. 106-169 - Foster Care Independence Act of 1999
  • P.L. 105-89 - Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997
  • P.L. 104-235 - Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Amendments of 1996
  • P.L. 104-188 - Interethnic Adoption Provisions (IEPA) of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996

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. This page contains both regulations and notices for public comment.

 

 

  • Program Regulations (PR) - These issuances are used to transmit final regulations, interim final rules, and notices of proposed rulemaking.
  • Federal Register Notices Visit disclaimer page  - These are notices published in the Federal Register that provide information, alert the public to upcoming events, or invite comment on issues under consideration (other than program regulations).

     

Technical Bulletins

The Children’s Bureau develops technical bulletins to supplement official guidance and assist states and tribes in implementing child welfare policies and practices. Technical bulletins cover a variety of topics, including the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS), and child welfare monitoring.

  • AFCARS Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states in developing, implementing, and maintaining their Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).
  • NYTD Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states in developing and implementing the data collection and reporting requirements for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD).
  • CCWIS Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states and tribes in developing, implementing, and maintaining their Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS).
  • CFSR Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states in understanding and preparing for child welfare monitoring reviews.
  • Legal and Judicial - This technical bulletin supplements official guidance and assist states and tribes regarding legal and judicial matters.
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