To help states achieve positive outcomes for children and families, the Children's Bureau monitors state child welfare services through the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) assessment reviews, the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) reviews, the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) assessment reviews, and the title IV-E foster care eligibility reviews.
AFCARS collects case-level information from state and tribal title IV-E agencies on all children in foster care and those who have been adopted with title IV-E agency involvement. The purpose of the AFCARS assessment reviews is to more fully assess and evaluate how an agency gathers, records, extracts, and submits its AFCARS data. The AFCARS review process is a rigorous evaluation of the agency's information system and allows the review team to identify problems, investigate the causes, and suggest solutions during the review.
The CFSRs, which are periodic reviews of state child welfare systems, enable the Children’s Bureau to achieve the following:
- Ensure conformity with federal child welfare requirements
- Determine what is actually happening to children and families as they are engaged in child welfare services
- Assist states in enhancing their capacity to help children and families achieve positive outcomes
After a CFSR is completed, states develop a Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to address areas in their child welfare services that need improvement. The PIP instructions and matrix document provides guidance to states about developing their PIPs.
NYTD is a federal reporting system designed to collect information on youth transitioning out of foster care who are served by state agencies that administer the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood. The purpose of the NYTD review is to comprehensively evaluate states’ policies and practices related to collecting and reporting timely, reliable, and accurate data on youth in transition. The NYTD review also is an opportunity to explore how states use NYTD data to evaluate the quality of services provided to youth in transition as part of a continuous quality improvement framework.
The Division of State Systems (DSS) conducts CCWIS reviews to assess title IV-E agency compliance with the CCWIS regulations. The new CCWIS reviews process is in development. DSS is currently creating tools title IV-E agencies can use to assess their child welfare information systems. As tools become available, they will be posted to the CCWIS Reviews webpage. Data from child welfare information systems are used to support AFCARS, NYTD, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, and the CFSRs.
The regulatory reviews of the title IV-E foster care program determine whether children in foster care meet the federal eligibility requirements for foster care maintenance payments. During these reviews, the Children’s Bureau examines child and provider case records, as well as payment documentation, to validate the accuracy of a state's reimbursement claims for foster care payments. Each eligibility review details the strengths and weaknesses of the state's program and identifies technical assistance that may be needed for program improvement.