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HHS/ACF RIN: 0970-AC72 Publication ID: Fall 2019 
Title: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System  

This final rule streamlines the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data elements and removes undue burden related to reporting AFCARS.

Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: Deregulatory 
CFR Citation: 45 CFR 1355   
Legal Authority: secs. 474(f), 479 and 1102 of the Social Security Act   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

ACF is finalizing revisions to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) that were published on April 19, 2019, ( 84 FR 16572 ).  Title IV-E agencies submit twice annually data on children who are in foster care and adopted with the title IV-E (child welfare) agency’s involvement.  AFCARS regulations were originally published in 1993 and States have been submitting data since 1995.  A final rule was published in December 2016, over-expanded AFCARS data reporting leading us to question whether it comports with the statutory requirements that AFCARS data be reliable and consistent and should avoid unnecessary diversion of resources from agencies.  E.O. 13777 precipitated another look at AFCARS and the revisions proposed in the 2019 rule streamline this data with the goal of alleviating burden on reporting agencies.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

ACF is issuing this final rule under section 479 of the Social Security Act (the Act) (42 U.S.C. 679).  This section requires the collection of comprehensive national information with respect to the demographic characteristics of children in foster care and those who are adopted with State involvement and their biological, foster, and adoptive parents.  Section 474(f) of the Act requires HHS to impose penalties for non-compliant AFCARS data.  Section 1102 of the Act instructs the Secretary to promulgate regulations necessary for the effective administration of the functions for which HHS is responsible under the Act.  ACF issued regulations implementing section 479 of the Act in 1993 under 45 CFR 1355.40 and the appendix to part 1355.  Section 479(c)(1) and (2) of the Act requires AFCARS data be reliable and consistent over time and avoid unnecessary diversion of resources from reporting agencies.  This final rule will amend the data required to be reported per regulations in 45 CFR part 1355 to streamline what was expanded in the December 2016 final rule to comport with section 479(c)(1) and (2) of the Act.


There are no alternatives to publishing this final rule. Not publishing this final rule means that the expanded data reporting under the December 2016 final rule will go into effect, which will not comport with section 479(c)(1) and (2) of the Act, nor the comments we received from States in response to the 2019 proposed rule that supported streamlining the data reporting. 

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

This final rule impacts State and tribal title IV-E (child welfare) agencies.  They may claim 50% federal financial participation for costs incurred related to this rule, that include searching data sources, gathering information, and entering the information into the system, developing or modifying procedures and systems to collect, validate, and verify the information and adjusting existing ways to comply with AFCARS requirements, training personnel, and transmitting the information to ACF.  Affected entities will incur $44 million in annual costs, net of federal reimbursements.  Cost savings: Streamlining the data reporting from the December 2016 final rule will reduce the title IV-E agency reporting burden from the 2016 final rule, thus resulting in an estimated $40 million in total annual savings for the year it becomes effective; cost savings discounted relative to 2016 at 7 percent over a perpetual time horizon, in 2016 dollars.



Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  03/15/2018  83 FR 11449   
ANPRM Comment Period End  06/13/2018 
NPRM  04/19/2019  84 FR 16572   
NPRM Comment Period End  06/18/2019 
Final Action  05/00/2020 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Kathleen McHugh
ACYF/Children's Bureau
Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
330 C Street SW,
Washington, DC 20201
Phone:202 401-5789