Family Room Blog

The Family Room Blog is an agency-wide platform to showcase ACF’s mission-driven work and the impact of its programs and initiatives for a broad audience.

It is managed by the Office of Communications, which reviews content for relevance and editorial standards.

Relevance

A post that is relevant will discuss some aspect of your office’s work and connect to some recent action or information.

Examples:

  • A program goal, and how you are currently working towards it
  • A grant program you run, and how grantees are using ACF funds or technical assistance to help children, youth, families, and/or communities
  • An observance that has a specific and direct connection to your program’s mission or work and what you’re doing to increase awareness or help affected individuals or communities

Every post should answer basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? and Why?

Who am I talking about? What happened? Where did it happen? When did it happen?

And the most important — why? Not just why did it happen, but why should someone else care? What is the reader taking away from the piece? What can they learn from the story you’re telling them? Why is it worth their time to read the thing the whole way through?

Editorial Standards

There are also standards that are specific to the Family Room Blog.

Audience

We target an audience of interested professionals on the blog. Because the blog is agency-wide, we can’t assume that they know the details or terminology of any given program.  So choose topics that will interest a broad range of human services professionals.

Style

As with all web content, each post should follow conventions of the ACF style guide.

Keep the post in clear, plain language.

Read your piece out loud. If you stumble or find a phrase awkward to say, it is likely awkward to read.  Revise accordingly.

Posts do not need to be written in the first person, though they can be. However, a personal story or reflection would still have to have some direct connection to the work of a program office or the agency.

Guidelines

Structure of Blog Posts

Each post must have:

  • Headline: 6 to 8 words
  • Teaser (Subhead): 8 to 10 words that summarize what the blog is about
  • Author name and complete title
  • Teaser Image: The small image that appears as a thumbnail on the ACF homepage and the list of blog posts

All of these elements are outlined in the blog template.

The posts should be between 200 and 800 words.

References

If you want to reference data or supporting materials, use links. Blog posts do not have footnotes. A blog post is not an academic paper.

Images and Quotes

If directly quoting or using a photo of someone who is outside of ACF or U.S. government, make sure to get a waiver release form on file before you use their words or image.

Submitting a Post

Requesting a Date

If you have a specific date when you want your post to publish, please request it as early as possible. You don't have to have a draft prepared to request a date.

Requests should be sent via email to digitalcomms@acf.hhs.gov.

The subject line should include “Blog Request”, your program office acronym, and a quick description of the post.

Example - Subject Line: Blog Request - OFA Father’s Day 

Before Submitting your Draft

Before submitting a blog post, it should be reviewed and approved by program management to ensure accuracy. In the case of regional offices, make sure both your regional director and the ORO director have approved your topic before submitting your material to Digital Communications. 

If the post is part of a larger campaign (an observance like Domestic Violence Month or in coordination with other communications products like a press release or social media), make sure you are also coordinating with your office's assigned Public Affairs Specialist.

Submitting your Draft 

Template

Submit proposed blog posts using the blog request template. This ensures that all necessary information is provided.

Resource Library: ACF Family Room Blog Template

Timeline

Blog posts must be submitted a minimum of 3 business days prior to the requested publishing date to accommodate Comms review.

Images

Images must be submitted as attachments. Images embedded within the body of a Word document or email will not be accepted.

Waivers

If you are quoting or using an image of someone who is not a government employee or formally affiliated with ACF, you must have them sign a waiver to use their words or image.

Resource Library: ACF Waiver

How to Submit your Draft

When submitting your blog post, attach the post and any images or other assets to an email. 

Send the email to digitalcomms@acf.hhs.gov

     

    Review Process

    The Comms review will focus on focus on structure, style, and tone — ensuring the post complies with plain language requirements and speaks to a general audience.

    • Minor changes (formatting, grammatical details, etc.) will be made without further review.
    • If the edits are more significant (word changes, restructuring, questions), the draft will be returned to you with tracked changes and notations.

    NOTE: If more time is needed to resolve any questions, it may affect the publishing date.

    Contact

    Have more questions? Contact anyone on the digital communications team to discuss ideas and answer questions at any stage of the process.