What’s New in Laws & Policies

This page provides resources and information about new federal legislation, regulations, and Children's Bureau policies. As new laws are passed, regulations are issued, or the Children's Bureau announces new policy, the information on this page is changed to ensure that the most current policy information is available to stakeholders quickly and accurately. Any questions or comments about information and resources provided here should be directed to the Children's Bureau Regional Program Managers.

New Information Memoranda (IMs) and Program Instructions (PIs)

  • ACYF-CB-PI-21-05 - This Program Instruction (PI) instructs title IV-E agencies on actions needed to receive title IV-E Kinship Navigator funding under the provisions of Section 8, Division X of P.L. 116-260. These provisions authorize programmatic flexibility and enhanced funding for the period of April 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021.
  • ACYF-CB-PI-21-04 - This Program Instruction (PI) provides instruction and guidance to title IV-B/ IV-E agencies and Court Improvement Program Grantees on actions required to address the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act which was enacted as Division X of P.L. 116-260, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • ACYF-CB-PI-21-03 - This Program Instruction (PI-21-03) sets forth the requirements for recipients of Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect awards for FY 2021; and provides guidance and instructions for the preparation and submission of the application and annual reports.
  • ACYF-CB-PI-21-02 - This Program Instruction (PI) provides information on changes to the CIP that become effective in FY 2022 and provides updated and supplemental guidance on actions need to apply for FY 2022 state CIP funding.
  • ACYF-CB-PI-21-01 - This Program Information (PI) sets forth the eligibility requirements and the grant application procedures for FY 2021 Children’s Justice Act (CJA) grants and provides the tentative State allocation table.
  • ACYF-CB-IM-21-06 - This Information Memorandum (IM) urges all state and tribal title IV-E agencies, courts, administrative offices of the courts, and Court Improvement Programs to work together to ensure that parents, children and youth, and child welfare agencies, receive high quality legal representation at all stages of child welfare proceedings, and to maximize allowable title IV-E administrative reimbursement for children who are candidates for title IV-E foster care or who are in title IV-E foster care and their parent(s) in foster care legal proceedings.
  • ACYF-CB-IM-21-05 - This Information Memorandum (IM) informs title IV-B and IV-E agencies and State and Tribal Court Improvement Programs of the enactment of Division X and Section 305 of Title III of Division CC of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and provides basic information on the new law. 
  • ACYF-CB-IM-21-04 - This Information Memorandum (IM) clarifies how allowable adaptations to evidence based programs and services that have been rated by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse can be used to provide flexibility for tribal communities under state title IV-E prevention programs, and to encourage state IV-E agencies to identify with tribes which services will be most helpful and to work with tribes to make allowable adaptations to services that will be responsive to tribal culture.
  • ACYF-CB-IM-21-03 - This Information Memorandum (IM) shares lessons learned from the pandemic and highlights strategies and opportunities for child and family serving agencies, organizations, and entities to create equitable, proactive, and integrated approaches to support the health and well-being of children and families.
  • ACYF-CB-IM-21-02 - This Information Memorandum (IM) highlights the importance of civil legal advocacy in advancing child and family well-being; addressing the social determinants of health; enhancing community resiliency; and to strongly encourage state, territorial, and tribal human services entities to work together to support access to civil legal advocacy.

Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act 

The President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260, into law on December 27, 2020.  In general, the law makes continuing appropriations for specified federal agencies and provides flexibilities and assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency.  Division X of P.L. 116-260 provides supplemental appropriations for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) program, Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) program, the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program and the Court Improvement Program (CIP), among other flexibilities.  Sec. 305 of Title III of Division CC, P.L. 116-260 also makes amendments to extend the authorization of mandatory appropriations for title IV-B, subpart 2 and change the structure of state CIP grants from three grants to one grant.

ACYF-CB-IM-21-05 - This Information Memorandum informs title IV-B/IV-E and State and Tribal Court Improvement Programs on enactment of P.L. 116-260 the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and to provide basic information on the new law.

Webinar Visit disclaimer page . The Children’s Bureau provided information to states, tribes, and courts on January 7, 2021 on the on the child welfare provisions in Division X the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act, P.L. 116-260.  The recording for the webinar can be found here: https://zoom.us/rec/share/4U-gv_T2YjFtlGYTlj56me5QTt0uD-vR7I0ANSnlbsUX_lzqHefaZ2JYb9vejcSS.JLRd84qCcZSsA6k8 

Passcode to access Webinar: 9ES4H0K#

Final Rule: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System

A final rule on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was published in the Federal Register on May 12, 2020. It finalizes a proposal to streamline the information required to be reported by title IV-E agencies from the 2016 AFCARS final rule.
AFCARS Final Rule (May 12, 2020) Visit disclaimer page - This is a link to the 2020 final rule in the Federal Register (85 FR 28410).
ACYF-CB-IM-20-07 - This Information Memorandum informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies of the publication of the AFCARS 2020 final rule.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System

A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was published in the Federal Register on April 19, 2019. It is open for comment until June 18, 2019. The 2019 NPRM proposes to streamline the information required to be reported by title IV-E agencies from the 2016 AFCARS final rule.
AFCARS NPRM (April 19, 2019) Visit disclaimer page - This is a link to the 2019 NPRM in the Federal Register (84 FR 16572).
ACYF-CB-IM-19-02 - This Information Memorandum informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies of the publication of the AFCARS 2019 NPRM and where to submit comments.
AFCARS Q&As - This document provides background on AFCARS, the 2019 NPRM, and where to submit comments.
An Overview of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - This is a presentation that provides an overview of the AFCARS 2019 NPRM and where to submit comments.

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA)

The President signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123) into law on February 9, 2018. This law includes the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), which reauthorizes and amends the title IV-B subparts 1 and 2 programs; amends the Chafee program, amends the title IV-E foster care program to create new optional prevention funding under title IV-E; places title IV-E payment limits on child care institutions; and reauthorizes the Adoption Incentives Program among other changes. Please note that P.L. 115-123 has various effective dates, some of which provide for a limited period of delay.

ACYF-CB-IM-18-02 - This Information Memorandum informs states and tribes of the enactment of FFPSA and provides basic information on the new law.

ACYF-CB-PI-18-06 - This Program Instruction provides guidance to states, administering titles IV-B and IV-E of the Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and to Indian Tribes, Indian Tribal Organizations, or Indian Tribal Consortia administering titles IV-B and IV-E of the Act of changes in law and funding affecting the information that must be submitted with the Annual Progress and Services Report due June 30, 2018.

ACYF-CB-PI-18-07 - This Program Instruction provides title IV-E agencies instructions for (1) changes to the title IV-E plan requirements as a result of FFPSA that are effective as of January 1, 2018, and later and (2) delayed effective dates for plan requirements in titles IV-B and IV-E.

Decisions Related to the Development of a Clearinghouse of Evidence-Based Practices in Accordance With the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 Visit disclaimer page - On June 22, 2018 (83 FR 29122), The Administration for Children and Families, solicited comments by July 22, 2018 on initial criteria and potential candidate programs and services for review in a Clearinghouse of evidence-based practices in accordance with the FFPSA. The Clearinghouse will identify promising, supported, and well-supported practices for mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, in-home parent skill-based programs, and kinship navigator programs appropriate for children who are candidates for foster care pregnant or parenting foster youth, and the parents or kin caregivers of those children and youth.

ACYF-CB-PI-18-09 - This Program Instruction provides instructions to state title IV-E agencies on the title IV-E prevention program requirements. Attachment C of the program instruction provides the HHS Initial Practice Criteria and First List of Services and Programs Selected for Review as part of the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse.

ACYF-CB-PI-18-10 - This Program Instruction provides instructs to tribal title IV-E agencies administering or supervising the administration of title IV-E under sections 479B and 471(a) of the Act on the title IV-E prevention program requirements

ACYF-CB-PI-18-11 - This Program Instruction provides instructions to title IV-E agencies on the requirements for participating in the Title IV-E Kinship Navigator Program, as amended by the FFPSA.

ACYF-CB-PI-18-12 - This Program Instruction provides state, territorial, and tribal title IV-E agencies with the revised form and instructions approved by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for reporting quarterly financial information on the title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, and Guardianship Assistance, Kinship Navigator and Prevention Services Programs. This PI also provides continuing guidance for the submission of the Annual Adoption Savings Calculation and Accounting Report.

Letter to Update Child Welfare Directors on the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse - This letter provides an update to states on the progress made in implementing the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, as authorized by FFPSA, and outlines estimated dates for additional guidance.

Federal Register Notice on Proposed National Model Foster Family Home Licensing Standards Visit disclaimer page - This Federal Register notice published August 1, 2018, describes the Children’s Bureau's proposed model standards for foster family home licensing and the 60-day comment period (83 FR 37495).

ACYF-CB-IM-19-01 - This Information Memorandum provides the National Model Foster Family Home Licensing Standards required by FFPSA.

ACYF-CB-PI-19-02 - This Program Instruction provides guidance to states, territories, and insular areas on actions they are required to take to receive their allotments for federal fiscal year 2020 (subject to the availability of appropriations) authorized under title IV-B, subparts 1 and 2, section 106 of CAPTA, Chafee and ETV programs.

Technical Bulletin #1 - Title IV-E Prevention Program Data Elements - This technical bulletin provides information for title IV-E agencies on the data elements to be submitted for each child who receives title IV-E prevention services, as required by the Family First Prevention Services Act.

AFCARS Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Implementation of the Dec. 2016 Final Rule

An Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2018 and will be open for comment until June 13, 2018. ACF is seeking public suggestions, in particular from state and tribal title IV-E agencies for streamlining the AFCARS data points. The ANPRM has two sections: Background that describes the authority on which the ANPRM is based and establishes the rationale for its issuance, and Questions for Comment wherein we solicit comment on the AFCARS regulations. Additionally, we published in the Federal Register on March 15, 2018 a NPRM proposing to provide an additional two fiscal years to comply with the AFCARS requirements in the December 2016 final rule. The NPRM regarding implementation will be open for comment until April 16, 2018.

AFCARS ANPRM Visit disclaimer page - This is a link to the ANPRM in the Federal Register (83 FR 11449).

AFCARS NPRM on implementation delay Visit disclaimer page - This is a link to the NPRM proposing to delay the implementation timeframe for title IV-E agencies to comply with sections 1355.41 through 1355.47 (83 FR 11450.)

ACYF-CB-IM-18-01 - This Information Memorandum informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies about the publication of the AFCARS ANPRM and NPRM on implementation delay and where to submit comments.

Presentation on the AFCARS ANPRM and NPRM regarding implementation - This is a brief presentation on the Federal Register notices.

AFCARS Foster Care and Adoption Data Elements in the Appendix to 45 CFR part 1355 - This is a list of the Foster Care and Adoption data elements as currently published in the Appendix to 45 CFR part 1355 Visit disclaimer page . These are the data elements that are currently being reported and have been reported by title IV-E agencies since 1993.

List of AFCARS Out-of-Home Care and Adoption and Guardianship Assistance Elements with response options - This is a list of the Out-of-Home Care and Adoption and Guardianship Assistance data elements with response options and regulatory citations as published in the AFCARS final rule issued on December 14, 2016 (AFCARS Out-of-Home Care and Adoption and Guardianship Assistance Data Element List with Definitions - This is a list of the Out-of-Home Care and Adoption and Guardianship Assistance data elements with their definitions as published in the AFCARS final rule issued on December 14, 2016 (81 FR 90524 Visit disclaimer page )

AFCARS Data Elements Side-by-Side Comparison - This is a side-by-side comparison of the AFCARS data elements published in the Appendix to 45 CFR part 1355 Visit disclaimer page and the final rule issued on December 14, 2016 (81 FR 90524 Visit disclaimer page ).

Final Rule: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System

The final rule on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2016 (81 FR 90524). AFCARS is the only Federal national data set that collects case level information on all children in foster care and children adopted with the involvement of the title IV-E (child welfare) agency. The final rule requires title IV-E agencies to collect and report data to ACF on children in out-of-home care, who exit out-of-home care to adoption or legal guardianship, information related to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978, and children who have a title IV-E adoption or guardianship assistance agreement.

AFCARS final rule Visit disclaimer page - This is a link to the final rule in the Federal Register (81 FR 90524).

ACYF-CB-IM-17-01 - This Information Memorandum informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies about the publication of the AFCARS final rule.

AFCARS Final Rule Questions and Answers - This document provides frequently asked questions about the AFCARS final rule.

AFCARS Final Rule Overview Presentation - This is an overview presentation on the AFCARS final rule.

AFCARS Final Rule Talking Points - This document provides background and overview of the final rule.

Joint Guidance on requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Protecting the Rights of Parents and Prospective Parents with Disabilities: Technical Assistance for State and Local Child Welfare Agencies and Courts under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act Visit disclaimer page — The Children’s Bureau, the HHS Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice have issued joint guidance to state and local child welfare agencies and courts on the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The guidance is part of a new partnership between HHS and DOJ to help child welfare agencies protect the welfare of children while ensuring compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws. Letter Visit disclaimer page

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