Laws & Policies

The Children's Bureau provides guidance to states, tribes, child welfare agencies, and more on the complex and varied federal laws as they relate to child welfare.

What’s New in Laws & Policies

This page provides resources and information about new federal legislation, regulations, and Children's Bureau policies.

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CB Policy

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  • This Information Memorandum (IM) urges all state and tribal title IV-E agencies, courts, administrative offices of the courts, and Court Improvement Programs to work together to ensure that parents, children and youth, and child welfare agencies, receive high quality legal representation at all stages of child welfare proceedings, and to maximize allowable title IV-E administrative reimbursement for children who are candidates for title IV-E foster care or who are in title IV-E foster care and their parent(s) in foster care legal proceedings.
  • This Information Memorandum (IM) informs title IV-B and IV-E agencies and State and Tribal Court Improvement Programs of the enactment of Division X and Section 305 of Title III of Division CC of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and provides basic information on the new law. 
  • This Information Memorandum (IM) clarifies how allowable adaptations to evidence based programs and services that have been rated by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse can be used to provide flexibility for tribal communities under state title IV-E prevention programs, and to encourage state IV-E agencies to identify with tribes which services will be most helpful and to work with tribes to make allowable adaptations to services that will be responsive to tribal culture.
  • This Information Memorandum (IM) shares lessons learned from the pandemic and highlights strategies and opportunities for child and family serving agencies, organizations, and entities to create equitable, proactive, and integrated approaches to support the health and well-being of children and families.
  • This Information Memorandum (IM) highlights the importance of civil legal advocacy in advancing child and family well-being; addressing the social determinants of health; enhancing community resiliency; and to strongly encourage state, territorial, and tribal human services entities to work together to support access to civil legal advocacy.
  • This Information Memorandum (IM) provides information on best practices, resources, and recommendations for achieving permanency for children and youth in a way that prioritizes the child’s or youth’s well-being.
  • IM-20-08

    Use of Title IV-E Programmatic Options to Improve Support to Relative Caregivers and the Children in Their Care.
    December 29, 2020
    In response to the Executive Order 13930, Strengthening the Child Welfare System for America’s Children, this Information Memorandum (IM) encourages title IV-E agencies to make use of flexibilities and options within the title IV-E program to improve support for relatives and kin caring for children in foster care.
  • IM-20-07

    2020 Final Rule on Revised AFCARS Data Elements
    May 12, 2020
    This Information Memoranda (IM) informs title IV-E agencies that the Children’s Bureau (CB) published a final rule to revise the AFCARS data elements in the Federal Register on May 12, 2020.
  • IM-20-06

    Foster Care as a Support to Families
    April 29, 2020
    This Information Memoranda (IM) provides information on best practices, resources, and recommendations for using foster care as a support for families in a way that mitigates the trauma of removal for the child and parents, expedites safe and successful reunification, and improves parent and child well-being outcomes. This Information Memorandum (IM) emphasizes the importance of state and tribal child welfare communities building and supporting relationships between resource families and parents to facilitate improved engagement of parents, promote timely reunification, build protective capacities in parents, and strengthen overall child and family well-being, while ensuring child safety.
  • IM-20-05

    NEW LEGISLATION – Public Law (P.L.) 116-127, Section 6008 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and P.L. 116-136, Section 3720 and Title VIII of Division B of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
    April 6, 2020
    This Information Memorandum (IM) provides information to title IV-B/IV-E agencies of the enactment of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act and to provide basic information on the new laws.

Policy Resources

The following resources provide additional information about policy manuals, federal legislation, as well as state and tribal statutes.

Laws, Legislation, and Regulatory Actions

Federal Laws

Federal laws set specific guidelines for state and tribal child welfare practice and frequently outline eligibility for federal funding.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) - This document presents CAPTA as amended by P.L. 115-271, the Substance Use—Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act or the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, enacted October 24, 2018. The text includes the Adoption Opportunities program.

Compilation of Titles IV-B, IV-E and Related Sections of the Social Security Act - This compilation includes the titles IV-B, IV-E, and related sections of the Social Security Act as amended by section 305 within Title III, Division CC of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, P.L. 116-260, enacted December 27, 2020.

Legislation

Legislation must be enacted by Congress to establish federal laws. Various pieces of legislation form the foundation for federal child welfare law, like titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.

The following resources provide information about federal child welfare legislation, including the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA):

This is a list of recently passed child welfare legislation. The Government Printing Office Visit disclaimer page  and Congress.gov Visit disclaimer page  provide access to the official public laws.

  • P.L. 115-271 - Substance Use—Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act or the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act
  • P.L. 115-123 - Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (also Family First Prevention Services Act)
  • P.L. 115-119 - RAISE Family Caregivers Act
  • P.L. 114-198 - Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016
  • P.L. 114-22 - Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015
  • P.L. 113-183 - Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act
  • P.L. 112-34 - Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011
  • P.L. 111-320 - CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010
  • P.L. 111-148 - Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • P.L. 110-351 - Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
  • P.L. 109-432 - Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-288 - Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-248 - Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-239 - Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006
  • P.L. 109-171 - Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
  • P.L. 109-113 - Fair Access Foster Care Act of 2005
  • P.L. 108-145 - Adoption Promotion Act of 2003
  • P.L. 108-36 - Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003
  • P.L. 107-133 - Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001
  • P.L. 106-279 - Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000
  • P.L. 106-177 - Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000
  • P.L. 106-169 - Foster Care Independence Act of 1999
  • P.L. 105-89 - Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997
  • P.L. 104-235 - Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Amendments of 1996
  • P.L. 104-188 - Interethnic Adoption Provisions (IEPA) of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996

Regulatory Actions

Executive branch agencies, such as the Children's Bureau, may develop regulations to provide more specific guidance on how a piece of legislation will be interpreted and implemented. Regulations are published in the Federal Register, and the public often is given the opportunity to comment on them. This page contains both regulations and notices for public comment.

 

 

  • Program Regulations (PR) - These issuances are used to transmit final regulations, interim final rules, and notices of proposed rulemaking.
  • Federal Register Notices Visit disclaimer page  - These are notices published in the Federal Register that provide information, alert the public to upcoming events, or invite comment on issues under consideration (other than program regulations).

     

Technical Bulletins

The Children’s Bureau develops technical bulletins to supplement official guidance and assist states and tribes in implementing child welfare policies and practices. Technical bulletins cover a variety of topics, including the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD), the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS), and child welfare monitoring.

  • AFCARS Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states in developing, implementing, and maintaining their Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).
  • NYTD Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states in developing and implementing the data collection and reporting requirements for the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD).
  • CCWIS Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states and tribes in developing, implementing, and maintaining their Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS).
  • CFSR Technical Bulletins - These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist states in understanding and preparing for child welfare monitoring reviews.
  • Legal and Judicial - This technical bulletin supplements official guidance and assist states and tribes regarding legal and judicial matters.
  • Title IV-E Prevention Program Technical Bulletins — These technical bulletins supplement official guidance and assist title IV-E agencies in implementing data collection and reporting requirements for the title IV-E prevention program.
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