The Administration has announced one of their decisions regarding an update of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) with an August 21, 2018 Federal Register announcement. They will delay an implementation that was scheduled to take place now. Instead the Children’s Bureau will delay the compliance and effective dates in the for AFCARS 2016 final rule for title IV-E agencies. This rule is effective on August 21, 2018. As of August 21, 2018, the effective date for amendatory instructions 3 and 5, published December 14, 2016 at 81 FR 90524, is delayed to October 1, 2020.
The Bureau has not yet made an announcement on changes to AFCARS. Shortly after this request for comments on the delay was a request for comments about changing elements within the AFCARS update but they have communicated in other ways that there will be changes in those data elements. It is unclear what they will do but there is concern they will hamper the increased data collection that was set to go in place, especially those data elements dealing with Indian Child Welfare.
AFCARS has not been updated since it was implemented in the 1990s. Each attempt has been delayed by an ever-present rational that it is too expensive or burdensome and there is always the next legislative act that may add to a desire for additional or different data. New data elements through the AFCAR updates would have provided longitudinal data (data over a child’s lifetime), data on residential care, adoption disruptions, data on trafficking, education data on children in care as well as data on enforcement of the Indian Child Welfare Act.