September 30, 2017

New child welfare data collection requirements will strengthen the process, ABA says

The ABA recently expressed support for a final rule issued by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) regarding the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).

In comments prepared by the ABA Center on Children and the Law and sent on Aug. 29 to ACF, Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman laid out three major points regarding the rule on AFCARS.

First, he highlighted that the ABA generally supports the changes made by the AFCARS final rule, highlighting their importance to ensuring that child welfare agencies are gathering data on all critical child and family-related outcomes to ensure safety, permanency and well-being of children.

“The Final Rule brings child welfare data collection in line with several decades of statutory changes and requirements enacted since 1993,” he explained. “These changes were long overdue and will now provide accurate and consistent data across states on key outcome areas.”

Second, Susman emphasized that the collection of information proposed in the rule is necessary for the proper operation of ACF and for the improvement of programs within the agency.  Susman also noted that three areas − education, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and LGBTQ – are critical to future child welfare data collection.

The maintenance of data collection, he said, ensures not only compliance with the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act and the Every Student Succeeds Act, but also is crucial for meeting the educational needs of children in foster care. He added that data collection will be required for cases that come under the ICWA to ensure that the law is being followed, and a new standardized method of collecting information about a child’s self-reported sexual orientation will help understand these youth, who are over-represented in the child welfare population.

Finally, the letter suggested ways to minimize the burden that information collection has on respondents, emphasizing the importance of child welfare and education agencies working together to share data across systems.            

 

Back to the September 2017 Washington Letter