Foster Care Cases

The State’s universe of foster care cases is the State’s AFCARS submission that corresponds with the sampling period for the three review sites. The universe of cases should comprise children for whom the agency has placement and care responsibility and who are considered to be in foster care on the basis of AFCARS reporting requirements. If juvenile justice or mental health cases are reported to AFCARS consistent with AFCARS requirements, they are part of the universe of cases.

From the AFCARS file or abridged AFCARS file, the Children’s Bureau data team selects approximately 150 foster care cases on the basis of the proportion of cases to be reviewed at each site. Foster care cases are stratified into four categories to achieve an adequate  representation of cases in key program areas, and the review should maintain a ratio of 10 cases per category. The four categories are as follows:

  • Category 1: 10 cases involving children who were ages 16 or 17 as of the last day of the PUR or the date that they exited care, as applicable. These children could have any permanency goal and could have entered care either before or during the PUR.
  • Category 2: 10 cases involving children who were under age 16 as of the last day of the PUR or the date that they exited care, as applicable. These children will have a current permanency goal of adoption and will have entered care either before or during the PUR.
  • Category 3: 10 cases involving children who were under age 16 as of the last day of the PUR or the date that they exited care, as applicable, and who entered care during the PUR. These cases could have any permanency goal except adoption.

These categories may include children entering foster care during the PUR, which will ensure a proportion of this case type that is consistent with the regulation and that will address the need to focus on State practice after the first-round of Program Improvement Plan implementation. The case numbers for these categories were based on the need to focus on (1) State practice during the PUR, (2) the emphasis on re-entries, and (3) the focus in the second round of reviews on the population of older youth in care.

  • Category 4: 10 cases involving children who were under age 16 as of the last day of the PUR or the date that they exited care, as applicable, and who entered care prior to the PUR. These cases could have any permanency goal except adoption.

Category 4 is intended to allow the random selection of cases with case plan goals other than adoption. These include guardianship, permanent placement with relatives, and other types of cases involving children younger than age 16 with a goal of Other Planned Permanent Living Arrangement.

After the State receives the list of approximately 150 foster care cases divided into 12 files, 4 for each site, it schedules the cases to be reviewed according to the case order listing, eliminating ineligible cases using the established elimination guidance. Each site should have at least two cases per category remaining on the lists as alternates in the event that cases are eliminated during the onsite review. States should not substitute cases from one list to supplement another list that incurred a shortfall.