Child Welfare Goals, Legislation, and Monitoring

The child welfare system works toward the national goals of providing safety, permanency, and well-being for children.  These goals are a shared responsibility; child welfare agencies do not serve children and families in isolation, but rather work in partnership with the courts, policymakers, community leaders, Tribes, and other public and private agencies to improve outcomes for children and families in their states.  This includes partnering with organizations that directly serve children, youth, and families, and those that affect family and community life.

This collaborative response to child maltreatment also involves many community professionals, including health care providers, mental health professionals, and educators, as well as community-based agency staff, such as substance abuse treatment providers and domestic violence victim advocates.  Clergy, extended family members, and concerned citizens likewise all play an important role in supporting families and keeping children safe.

While states and American Indian Tribes have the primary responsibility for providing child welfare services, the federal government plays a major role in supporting states and Tribes in the delivery of services through the funding of programs and through the passage of child welfare legislation.  The Children’s Bureau has the main responsibility for enforcing federal child welfare legislative mandates and monitoring child welfare across the nation.  It works with state, Tribal, and local agencies to develop programs that focus on preventing the abuse and neglect of children and serving children safely at home or, when necessary, protecting children from abuse and neglect through foster care and finding permanent families for children who cannot safely return to their parents.

National Goals

Child welfare systems are complex, and their specific procedures vary widely by state, but they all work to promote the three national goals for child protection:

  • Safety: All children have the right to live in an environment free from abuse and neglect. 
  • Permanency: Children need a family and a permanent place to call home.
  • Child and Family Well-Being: Children deserve nurturing environments in which their physical, emotional, educational, and social needs are met. 

To support these national goals, the following tenets (as articulated by the Children's Bureau in 1998) form the foundation of child welfare practice:

  • A safe and permanent home and family is the best place for children to grow up.  Every child has a right to adequate care and supervision and to be free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation.  It is the responsibility of parents to see that their children’s physical, mental, emotional, educational, and medical needs are adequately met.  Child protective services (CPS) agencies should intervene only when parents request assistance or fail to keep their children safe and meet their basic needs.
  • Most parents want to be good parents and, when adequately supported, have the strength and capacity to care for their children and to keep them safe.  Most children are best cared for in their own families.  Therefore, CPS agencies focus on building family strengths and providing parents with the assistance needed to keep their children safe so that the family may stay together.
  • When parents cannot or will not fulfill their responsibilities to protect their children, CPS agencies have the legal mandate to intervene directly on behalf of the children.  Interventions should be designed to help parents protect their children and should be as unobtrusive as possible.  CPS agencies must make reasonable efforts to develop a safety plan to keep children with their families whenever possible, although they may petition for juvenile or family court intervention and placement when children cannot be kept safely within their own homes.
  • CPS agencies are held accountable for achieving the outcomes of child safety, permanency, and family well-being.  To do so, CPS agencies must engage families in identifying and achieving family-level outcomes, goals, and tasks that reduce the risk of further maltreatment and mitigate the effects of maltreatment that has already occurred.
  • Families who need assistance from CPS agencies are diverse in terms of structure, culture, race, religion, economic status, beliefs, values, and lifestyles.  CPS agencies and practitioners must be responsive to and respectful of these differences.
  • CPS efforts are most likely to succeed when clients are involved and actively participate in the process.  CPS caseworkers need to work in ways that encourage clients to fully participate in assessment, case planning, and other critical decision-making processes in CPS intervention.
  • When children are placed in foster care because their safety cannot be assured, CPS agencies should develop a permanency plan as soon as possible.  In most cases, the preferred permanency plan is to reunify children with their families.  All children need continuity in their lives, so CPS agencies must immediately work with the family to change the behaviors and conditions that led to the maltreatment and necessitated that the child be removed from the home.
  • To best protect a child’s overall well-being, CPS agencies should assure that children move to permanency as quickly as possible.  Therefore, as agencies develop plans to support reunification, they should also develop alternative plans for achieving permanency once a child enters the CPS system.

Safety

The purpose of the safety goal is to ensure that children are not abused or neglected and, if possible and appropriate, to keep them safely in their homes.  Generally, when looking at safety, child welfare practice is concerned with addressing the following questions.

  • Did the child protective services (CPS) agency respond quickly to reports of child abuse and neglect and take immediate steps to protect the children in the home?
  • Once involved, did the CPS agency effectively use a family assessment and case plan to ensure that children were not abused or neglected again? 
  • Did the CPS agency provide services to make sure that children do not enter or re-enter foster care?

Good practice to achieve positive safety outcomes includes ensuring timely and appropriate assessments and/or investigations and collaborating with the child and family whenever possible.  By doing so, CPS agencies can work to prevent or to reduce the risk of maltreatment from recurring.  They often do this through a formal assessment and management of safety and risk, asking the questions:

  • Is the child currently safe from abuse or neglect in the home?
  • What is the risk of maltreatment if the child is kept in or returned to the home?
  • If the child is not safe, what must be done to protect the child?
  • What services need to be provided to the child and family to both prevent further maltreatment and to help mitigate the effects of the abuse?

The caseworkers, working in collaboration with parents, children (if age appropriate), and caregivers, can look at the risk and protective factors present to help in determining risk of maltreatment and the services needed to achieve safety.

Permanency

The purpose of the permanency goal is to ensure a legally permanent, nurturing family for every child in out-of-home care through family reunification, adoption, guardianship, or another planned permanent living arrangement (APPLA).  All children deserve to have permanency and stability in their living situations, whether they remain in the home, are removed from the home and then reunited with their families, or are removed from the home and then live permanently with families other than their birth families.

Generally, when looking at permanency, child welfare practice is concerned with addressing the following questions:

  • Did the child protective services (CPS) agency make good decisions to return a child to parents and provide services to prevent re-entry?
  • Is the child in a stable placement now, and how many placement changes did the child experience?
  • If appropriate, was the child placed in the same foster home as his or her siblings?  Was relative placement explored, and did it happen?
  • Were a permanency goal and all subsequent goals established in a timely manner, and were the goals appropriate?
  • Did the agency make concerted efforts to achieve the goal?
  • Was the child placed close enough for parents to have ongoing contact?  Did the agency make sure that visits occurred frequently enough?

Achieving permanency means working with the child and family to develop a case plan that provides stability and, once the child returns home or goes to another permanent placement, prevents re-entry into care.  A caseworker may use concurrent planning -- that is, working toward more than one permanency goal at a time -- to reunite the family while seeking other options to ensure that the child achieves permanency in a timely manner.  This is done by developing permanency goals (reunification, adoption, kinship care, or other planned permanent living arrangements) and then implementing the tasks and providing the services to achieve those goals.

Throughout the permanency process, the caseworker should also work to provide and maintain the child's family connections.  This is done by helping the child maintain family relationships and trying to ensure that, if removed from the home, the child is in close proximity to siblings and other family members.

Well-Being

While safety and permanency are integral to a child’s well-being, they are not enough. The well-being goal addresses the physical health and behavioral, emotional, and social functioning of children and youth who have experienced maltreatment, trauma, and/or exposure to violence.

Generally, when looking at well-being, child welfare practice is concerned with addressing the following questions:

  • Did the child protective services agency do a thorough assessment of the needs of the child, family, and foster family, and provide the services necessary to ensure the child’s well-being?
  • Did the agency make sure that the child’s physical, educational, and mental health needs were met?
  • Were the child and the family actively involved in developing the case plan?
  • Did the caseworker meet often enough with the child, parents, and foster family to ensure that the child was safe and that everyone was focused on the case plan's outcomes, goals, and tasks?

Good casework practice in achieving positive well-being outcomes includes thorough and ongoing assessment of children and their caregivers to determine their needs and then meet those needs through written case plans and service provision.  Because physical and behavioral health needs and functioning involve more than the affected child, it is important to engage all pertinent parties, such as educators, healthcare providers, and therapists.  Regular and attentive caseworker visits are also important to monitor a child’s functioning.  The goal is not merely to have the child survive his or her time in child welfare, but to thrive as best as he or she can.

Well-being is often harder to quantify than safety or permanency.  To assist agencies, the Children’s Bureau has developed a pair of guides identifying well-being instruments for early childhood and middle childhood/adolescence.

Child Welfare Legislation

Child abuse and neglect legislation exists at the Federal, State, and sometimes county or other local (parish, for example) levels. Federal legislation provides mandates and guidelines for how State and Tribal child welfare systems should work to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Some notable examples of Federal child welfare legislation include:

  • Title IV-B: Child and Family Services and Title IV-E: Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoptive Assistance of the Social Security Act
  • The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA)
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)
  • The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980
  • The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)
  • The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999
  • The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
  • The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014

Click the links below for further details about each of these pieces of legislation.

State Statutes

In order to receive Federal funds, States are required to comply with the guidelines mandated under CAPTA. They generally, however, have autonomy in their provision of services to maltreated children and their families. For example, all States have enacted laws or statutes about reporting suspected maltreatment and intervention, which are enforced by civil and criminal courts. These statutes also include definitions of the acts and omissions considered abuse and neglect in a particular State. In addition, all States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have enacted statutes requiring that the maltreatment of children be reported to a designated agency or official. The State has the authority to intervene if the parent fails to provide for or protect the child.

For more information about individual States’ statutes, visit here.

Title IV-B: Child and Family Services

Both titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act (SSA) provide major components of what we know as child welfare. Title IV-B addresses the provision of child welfare services that can be used for prevention of and response to child abuse and neglect. It does so by funding services and programs which:

  • Protect and promote the welfare of all children
  • Prevent the neglect, abuse, or exploitation of children
  • Support at-risk families through services which allow children, where appropriate, to remain with their families or return to their families in a timely manner
  • Promote the national goals of safety, permanence and well-being of children in foster care and adoptive families
  • Provide training, professional development and support to ensure a well-qualified workforce
  • Promote and support adoption

Additionally, the legislation sets aside other funds for evaluation, research, training and technical assistance projects, and court improvement programs. Recent legislation, the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L.112-34), enacted September 30, 2011, reauthorized or amended programs funded under title IV-B and added provisions that address the impact of emotional trauma from child maltreatment.

Legislative Links

Below are the pertinent sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the permanent source of Federal regulations, which is updated annually. The list also includes links to the actual legislation of title IV of the SSA.

  • Title IV, Grants to States for Aid and Services to Needy Families with Children and for Child-Welfare Services 
    Title IV of the Social Security Act contains the sections of the law pertaining to titles IV-B and IV-E. It is available online here.
  • 45 CFR Part 1357, Requirements Applicable to Title IV-B 45 CFR Part 1357 
    This part applies to State and Indian Tribal programs for child welfare services under subpart 1, and family preservation and family support services under subpart 2 of title IV-B, including CFSPs and APSRs. It is available online at: link and link.

Additional Information

For more information about title IV-B programs and policies, visit the following Web sites:

Title IV-E: Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance

Like title IV-B, title IV-E of the Social Security Act (SSA) also addresses major components of child welfare. Its focus is on providing safe and stable out-of-home care for children who are in out-of-home care due to child maltreatment or other circumstances until they are able to achieve permanency in their placement by being safely returned home, placed permanently with adoptive families, or placed in other planned arrangements.

Title IV-E funds are available for:

  • Monthly maintenance payments for the daily care and supervision of eligible children
  • Administrative costs to manage the program
  • Training of staff and foster care providers
  • Recruitment of foster and adoptive parents
  • Adoption assistance Implementation and operation of a Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS)  

Additionally, the title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews, a periodic and systematic review of each State's title IV-E foster care programs are conducted by the Children's Bureau to ensure that Federal funds are expended for intended purposes and to recover improper expenditures.  

Legislative Links

Below are the pertinent sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the permanent source of Federal regulations, which is updated annually. The list also includes links to the actual legislation of title IV of the SSA.

  • 45 CFR Part 1355, General 
    This part of CFR TITLE 45 -- Public Welfare: Regulations Relating to Public Welfare, Subchapter G: The Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Foster Care Maintenance Payments, Adoption Assistance, and Child and Family Services applies to State programs for foster care maintenance payments, adoption assistance payments, related foster care and adoption administrative and training expenditures, and the independent living services program under title IV-E, including the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) and the Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP). It is located online here.
  • 45 CFR Part 1356, Requirements Applicable to Title IV-E 
    This part applies to State programs for foster care maintenance payments, adoption assistance payments, related foster care and adoption administrative and training expenditures, and the independent living services program under title IV-E. It is available online here.

Additional Information

For more information about title IV-E policies, visit the following Web sites. 

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA)

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) provides minimum standards for defining physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse that States must incorporate in their statutory definitions to receive Federal funds. Originally enacted in 1974, CAPTA provides Federal funding to States for prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities, as well as grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for demonstration programs and projects.

Additionally, CAPTA identifies the Federal role in supporting research, evaluation, technical assistance, and data collection activities. Since it was signed into law, CAPTA has been amended and reauthorized several times, most recently on December 20, 2010, by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010. Information on the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 is available online here.

Additional information about CAPTA is available on the following Web sites. 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally enacted in 1975, entitles eligible children to education programs that meet their special needs. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is developed for eligible children to identify their specific educational needs and strategies for meeting them. Both the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and IDEA contain provisions for procedures for Child Protective Services (CPS) agencies to screen or refer children under the age of 3 in substantiated cases of abuse or neglect for evaluation of IDEA eligibility.

For more information about IDEA, visit the following Web sites. 

Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)

The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), enacted in 1978 to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian Tribes and families, recognized that there is no resource more vital to the integrity of Indian Tribes than their children. It requires specific protections for Indian children involved in certain court proceedings.

If a child is affiliated with a federally recognized Indian Tribe, the Tribe has the right to intervene in proceedings or to petition to have the case transferred to Tribal court. ICWA also established standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and their placement in foster or adoptive homes and provided for assistance to Tribes for programs that help prevent the removal of children and the breakup of Indian families.

For more information about ICWA, visit the following Web sites:

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 requires that child protective services (CPS) agencies make reasonable efforts to avoid unnecessary removal of children from their homes and to reunify foster children with their families whenever possible. "Reasonable efforts" means providing parents with useful resources that enable them to protect the child, provide a stable home environment, and promote the child's well-being.

For more information about this Act, visit the following Web sites.

Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)

The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) was enacted in 1997 in response to concerns that many children were remaining in foster care for long periods or experiencing multiple placements. This landmark legislation requires timely permanency planning for children and emphasizes that the child's safety is the paramount concern. Specifically, ASFA:

  • Clarifies the meaning of reasonable efforts to emphasize safety of the child as the paramount concern and to add “safety of the child” to every step of case planning and review processes
  • Allows for concurrent planning, the simultaneous exploration of family reunification and other permanency options
  • Requires States to file for termination of parental rights (TPR) once children have been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, except in certain allowable circumstances, and encourages States to expedite TPR in specific situations of severe harm inflicted on children
  • Mandates States to document efforts to find adoptive or other permanent placements for children, including placements with fit and willing relatives
  • Gives preference when making placement decisions to adult relatives over nonrelative caregivers when relative caregivers meet all relevant State child protection standards
  • Emphasizes adult relatives over nonrelative caregivers when relative caregivers meet all relevant State child protection standards when making placement decisions; the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, P.L. 104-193, was the first law giving legal preference for relatives. It requires criminal background checks for all foster and adoptive parents.

For more information about ASFA, visit the following Web sites. 

Foster Care Independence Act

The Foster Care Independence Act, enacted in 1999, helps ensure that young people involved in the foster care system receive the skills that they need once they leave the system. It expanded opportunities for programs providing education, training, and employment services; counseling; housing assistance and financial support; and other services for foster youth to prepare for living on their own and to achieve self-sufficiency. It also emphasized permanency by requiring the continuation of efforts to find a permanent placement while concurrently providing independent living activities and increasing funding for adoption incentive payments.

For more information about this Act, visit the following Web sites.

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act

The Fostering Connections Act, enacted October 7, 2008, aims to connect and support relative caregivers, improve outcomes for children in foster care, provide for Tribal foster care and adoption access, improve incentives for adoption, and accomplish other purposes.

Generally, the law extends and expands adoption incentives through fiscal year 2013, creates options to provide kinship guardianship payments to age 21, de-links adoption assistance from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) eligibility, and provides federally recognized Indian Tribes or consortia with the option to operate a title IV-E (foster care) program, among many other provisions.

For more information about the Fostering Connections legislation, visit the following Web sites.

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014

The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, enacted in 2014, amends part E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of title IV of the Social Security Act to require a state’s plan for foster care and adoption assistance to demonstrate that the state agency identified, collected, reported data on, and determined appropriate services for children in foster care who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually trafficked or who have run away. The term ‘‘sex trafficking’’ means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. The law establishes a National Advisory Committee on the Sex Trafficking of Children and Youth to advise the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General on practical and general policies concerning improvements to best address sex trafficking of children and youth.

This law also takes important steps in supporting normalcy for children in foster care by requiring states to implement a "reasonable and prudent parent" standard for decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of the child made by a foster parent or designated official for a child care institution. Finally, the law eliminates Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency goal for children under the age of 16 and includes additional case plan and case review requirements for older youth with a permanency goal of APPLA.    

For more information about this Act, visit the following websites

 

Monitoring Child Welfare

To help States establish good practice in child welfare, achieve positive outcomes for children and families, and explore the experiences of children and families engaged in child welfare services, the Children's Bureau monitors State child welfare services through several vehicles.

  • The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS)
  • Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews
  • Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs)
  • The State Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) Assessment Reviews

These are in addition to other State performance vehicles that assist in the monitoring of child welfare systems.

Monitoring helps support accountability for States and develop and enhance continuous quality improvement (CQI) in practice. Each of these vehicles works from the core set of national goals for child welfare -- safety, permanency, and well-being -- and enables the systematic gathering of data that describes, in current and historical terms, the achievement of these outcomes; identifies and addresses the gap between current and future performance; and enables a process for improving performance.

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS)

The Children's Bureau created the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Assessment Review as a technical assistance process to gauge both the accuracy and reliability of the States’ foster care and adoption data, and the efficiency and effectiveness of their data collection, extraction, and reporting processes. AFCARS collects case-level information on all children in foster care for whom State and Tribal title IV-E agencies have responsibility for placement, care, or supervision, and on children who are adopted. This includes demographic information on the foster child, the foster and adoptive parents, the number of removal episodes and placements, and the current placement setting.

In addition to being used in short- and long-term planning and trend analysis, AFCARS data is legislatively and programmatically significant for the administration and oversight of programs under titles IV-B and IV-E, including two other monitoring vehicles, the Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews and the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs).

AFCARS assessment reports are available by fiscal year online here.

Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews

The Title IV-E Foster Care Eligibility Reviews are a collaborative effort between the Federal and State governments conducted by review teams comprised of staff from both. Conducted on site, typically in the State capital where the child welfare central office is located, these regulatory reviews of the foster care program focus on whether a child meets title IV-E eligibility requirements for foster care maintenance payments (which help cover a child’s food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, etc., while in foster care).

The goals of the reviews are to:

  • Determine whether Federal funds are spent on behalf of eligible children, in eligible placements, and in accordance with Federal statute, regulation, and policy
  • Provide timely and specific feedback to States that can directly affect the proper and efficient administration and implementation of their title IV-E foster care maintenance payments programs

The IV-E Reviews use multiple sources to assess State performance, including case records of the child, payment documentation, and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). They also use court orders to determine if the Child Protective Services (CPS) agency:

  • Removed the child from the home only when necessary
  • Provided reasonable efforts to preserve the family, if appropriate, and to achieve permanency for the child
  • Completed a criminal background check on the foster parent
  • Confirmed that the child met the income test for the program

Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs)

As with the title IV-E foster care eligibility reviews, the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) are a partnership between State and Federal staff. They began as part of a new approach to monitoring State child welfare programs that focuses on results in the areas of safety, permanency, and child and family well-being. The CFSRs measure State compliance under titles IV-B and IV-E by looking at different factors.

For the first two rounds, the CFSRs reviewed State child welfare programs in two areas.

  • Outcomes for children and families served by the child welfare system
  • Systemic factors that directly affect the State’s capacity to deliver services leading to improved outcomes

As with other monitoring vehicles, the CFSRs use multiple information sources, gathered in separate phases, to assess States’ performance. The Statewide Assessment was the first phase of the CFSR and was conducted by a State child welfare agency in collaboration with the agency’s external partners or stakeholders and the Children’s Bureau Central and Regional Office staff. Central and Regional Office staff prepared and transmitted profiles to each State that have aggregate data on the State's foster care and in-home service populations, including the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). These profiles provided an overall picture of how well the State is performing. The States and their external partners then completed the Statewide Assessment to evaluate further the programmatic issues behind the statewide data in the areas of safety, permanency, and well-being for children.  

There were two parts to the second phase, the Onsite Review Instrument (OSRI) and the Stakeholder Interview Guide (SIG). Both were completed by a joint Federal-State team. The OSRI evaluated outcomes by examining a sample of children receiving in-home services and those in foster care. The team did so by reviewing the case records and by interviewing family members, caretakers, caseworkers, and service providers. The SIG used stakeholder interviews to evaluate system performance in specific areas, such as the foster home licensing process or the array of services available.

Both the quantitative and qualitative data from the Statewide Assessment and the OSRI were used to determine the State's compliance on the outcomes and systemic factors. Reports on the findings from rounds 1 and 2 can be read at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/cwmonitoring/results/index.htm. The Children’s Bureau is currently looking at revising the CFSRs for round 3.

Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) Assessment Reviews

The Children's Bureau provides funding to States to build a Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS). A SACWIS is designed to support foster care and adoption assistance case management practice through a comprehensive and automated case management tool. The system should collect and manage the information necessary to facilitate the delivery of child welfare support services, including family support and family preservation. SACWIS supports the reporting of the data for both the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Review System (AFCARS) and the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS), a voluntary national data collection and analysis system.

A State does not have to implement a SACWIS. If it does, however, and receives Federal funding, then the Children’s Bureau conducts a 1-week, onsite review to assess its functionality after the State or Tribe’s system has been operational. These reviews are known as SACWIS Assessment Reviews.

You can view the status of each States’ SACWIS development online at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/systems/sacwis/statestatus.htm.

Other State Performance Vehicles

There are several other vehicles that help the Children's Bureau monitor child welfare performance. Two of these are the Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) and its follow-up, the Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR). The CFSP is a State or Tribally developed 5-year strategic plan that sets forth the vision, goals, and objectives to be accomplished to strengthen the State's or Tribe's overall child welfare system to improve outcomes for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families and for service delivery system reform. The APSR provides annual updates of the State's or Tribe's progress toward accomplishing the goals and objectives in the CFSP.

The CFSP and the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) processes are essentially two parts of a whole. The former lays out the State's vision and plans for implementing its child welfare programs. The CFSR (and resulting Program Improvement Plan) then monitors the State’s compliance with the State's CFSP and other Federal child welfare requirements. Both processes call on States to set goals and objectives relating to the safety, permanency and well-being of children and families, to engage stakeholders in assessment and planning, and to use data to measure progress.

For more on the integration of these two processes, visit here