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)

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 – This is a link to the ANPRM in the Federal Register (83 FR 11449).

AFCARS NPRM on implementation delay – 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. 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 (81 FR 90524)

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)

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 and the final rule issued on December 14, 2016 (81 FR 90524).

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 – 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.

Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System Final Rule

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) final rule was published in the Federal Register on June 2, 2016. The CCWIS final rule replaces the Statewide/Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS/TACWIS) requirements to address changes in child welfare practice and advances in information technology that have occurred since the regulations were published in 1993.

CCWIS Final Rule - This is a link to the final rule in the Federal Register (Volume 81, Number 106).

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System Final Rule: Overview  - This document provides an overview of CCWIS and key provisions of the final rule.

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions - This document provides answers to common questions concerning the CCWIS final rule.

ACYF-CB-IM-16-02 - This Information Memorandum (IM) informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies about the publication of the CCWIS final rule.

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

AFCARS Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

A Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) proposing to require that state title IV-E agencies collect and report additional data elements related to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in AFCARS was published in the Federal Register on April 7, 2016 and will be open for comment until May 9, 2019.  The proposed rule manifests Department-wide priorities to affirmatively protect the best interests of Indian children and promotes the stability and security of Indian tribes, families, and children.

AFCARS SNPRM - This is a link to the SNPRM in the Federal Register (81 FR 20283)

The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Supplemental Proposed Rule: Overview - This document provides an overview of the SNPRM, where to submit comments, and key provisions of the SNPRM.

AFCARS SNPRM Frequently Asked Questions - This document provides answers to common questions concerning the AFCARS SNPRM.

ACYF-CB-IM-16-01 - This Information Memorandum (IM) informs state title IV-E agencies and tribes about the publication of the AFCARS SNPRM and where to submit comments.

AFCARS SNPRM: An Overview Presentation - This is an overview presentation on the AFCARS SNPRM.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) was published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2015 and will be open for comment until October 13, 2015. The NPRM proposes to update the Statewide/Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS/TACWIS) requirements to address changes in child welfare practice and advances in information technology that have occurred since the regulations where published in 1993.

CCWIS NPRM - This is a link to the NPRM in the Federal Register (Vol 80 FR page 48200).

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System Proposed Rule: Overview - This document provides an overview of CCWIS, where to submit comments, and key provisions of the NPRM.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) Frequently Asked Questions - This document provides answers to common questions concerning the CCWIS NPRM.

ACYF-CB-IM-15-06 - This Information Memorandum (IM) informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies about the publication of the CCWIS NPRM and where to submit comments.

The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM): An Overview Presentation - This is an overview presentation on the CCWIS NPRM.

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 - 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

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

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) was published in the Federal Register on Monday, February 9, 2015 and will be open for comment until April 10, 2015. 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 NPRM proposes to update the AFCARS requirements and includes changes made as a result of the enactment of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351) and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183).

AFCARS NPRM - This is a link to the NPRM in the Federal Register (80 FR 7132).

The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Proposed Rule: Overview - This document provides an overview of AFCARS, where to submit comments, and key provisions of the NPRM.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Frequently Asked Questions - This document provides an overview of AFCARS, where to submit comments, and key provisions of the NPRM.

ACYF-CB-IM-15-01 - This Information Memorandum informs state and tribal title IV-E agencies about the publication of the AFCARS NPRM and where to submit comments.

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM): An Overview Presentation - This is an overview presentation on the AFCARS NPRM and where to submit comments.

Federal Register Notice Announcing Supplemental Proposed Rule - In this Federal Register Notice, we announced that we intend to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM), which will propose that title IV–E agencies collect and report additional ICWA-related data elements in AFCARS.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act

The President signed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, Public Law (P.L.) 113-183, into law on September 29, 2014. The law amends the title IV-E foster care program to address trafficking, limits another planned permanency living arrangement (APPLA) as a plan for youth, and reauthorizes and amends Family Connections Grants and the Adoption Incentives Program.

ACYF-CB-PI-15-07 - This Program Instruction provides instruction on some of the changes to the title IV-E plan requirements, effective September 29, 2015 and later, as a result of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.

ACYF-CB-PI-14-06 - This Program Instruction provides instruction on some of the changes to the title IV-E plan requirements, effective as of September 29, 2014, as a result of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act.

Letter to Child Welfare Directors on Protecting Credit of Young People in Foster Care - Federal law requires child welfare agencies to ensure that youth ages 16 and older in foster care receive a copy of any consumer report, commonly called a "credit report," annually until discharged from care, and to assist youth in interpreting the report and addressing any inaccuracies. The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, signed into law on September 29, 2014, will extend the protections of this provision to all youth ages 14 and older in foster care. In a letter to child welfare directors, the Children’s Bureau urges agencies to consider taking additional steps to protect children and youth from identity theft and to explore how to implement the provision to empower youth by deepening their understanding of credit, money management, and other financial issues.

Compilation of Titles IV-B, IV-E and Related Sections of the Social Security Act - This compilation includes the Social Security Act with changes from the Family First Prevention Services Act (Public Law 115-123) enacted February 9, 2018.

ACYF-CB-IM-14-03 - This Information Memorandum informs states and tribes of the enactment of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act and provides basic information on the new law, including title IV-E plan changes, new case plan requirements and definitions, additions to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), modifications to the Family Connection grants and Chafee program, and reauthorization of the Adoption and Guardianship Incentive Program.

Federal Register Notice: Statewide Data Indicators and National Standards for Child and Family Services Reviews

Statewide data indicators are used to inform the Children's Bureau's determination of a state's substantial conformity to certain safety and permanency outcomes. The Children's Bureau's plans to replace the statewide data indicators and the methods for calculating associated national standards on those indicators.

Federal Register Notice - Advises the public of the Children's Bureau's plan to replace the statewide data indicators and the methods for calculating associated national standards on those indicators. We invite the public to comment on these indicators and methods before their use in CFSRs scheduled for federal fiscal years (FFY) 2015 through 2018.

Executive Summary of the Final Notice of Statewide Data Indicators and National Standards for Child and Family Services Reviews (Amended May 2015) - This is a summary of the Final Notice of Statewide Data Indicators and National Standards for Child and Family Services Reviews published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2014, as amended and re-issued on May 13, 2015.

Combined Federal Register Announcement - Statewide Data Indicators and National Standards Round 3 - This document integrates corrections from the May update of the statewide data indicators and national standards (Round 3) into the original document.

Round 3 of the CFSRs - This page contains CFSR information relevant to the reviews conducted between 2015 and 2018, including Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) instruments, reporting guidelines, and forms.

Last Reviewed: July 19, 2018