Child Trends responded to two requests for comments from the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) related to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) 2016 Final Rule. AFCARS is the sole consistent source of national data on children and youth experiencing foster care. Our comments reflect our belief that AFCARS must be updated to include those data with the greatest potential to yield information that will advance the field with better services, supports, and policies.
Why focus on children and youth in foster care?
Children and youth in foster care constitute a population of special concern to policymakers and the public, given that these young people are in the custody of public child welfare agencies. Their nearly universal experience of trauma resulting from abuse, neglect, or separation from their families of origin places them at risk for worse health, education, and social connectedness outcomes than their peers in the general population. Comprehensive data about these vulnerable children and their experiences in foster care are critical to supporting their long-term success.