Due in parts to comments filed on the original proposed rule change for Automated Foster Care and Adoption Reporting System (our primary source of data regarding kids in care), the Administration for Children and Families has added collecting ICWA-related data to the proposed rule:
In this supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM), ACF proposes to require that state title IV-E agencies collect and report additional data elements related to the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA) in the AFCARS. ACF will consider the public comments on this SNPRM as well as comments already received on the February 9, 2015 NPRM and issue one final AFCARS rule.
Here is the proposed rule page, and we strongly recommend tribes and organizations file comments on the proposed changes–which are due May 9. The comments make a difference:
ACF issued the AFCARS NPRM (80 FR 7132, hereafter referred to as the February 2015 AFCARS NPRM) to amend the AFCARS regulations at 45 CFR 1355.40 and the appendices to part 1355. In it, ACF proposed to modify the requirements for title IV–E agencies to collect and report data to ACF on children in out-of-home care and who were adopted or in a legal guardianship with a title IV–E subsidized adoption or guardianship agreement. At the time the February 2015 AFCARS NPRM was issued, ACF concluded that it did not have enforcement authority regarding ICWA and, therefore, was not able to make the requested changes or additions to the AFCARS data elements regarding ICWA.
However, in the time since publication of the February 2015 AFCARS NPRM, ACF legal counsel reexamined the issue and determined it is within ACF’s existing authority to collect state-level ICWA-related data on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/ AN) children in child welfare systems pursuant to section 479 of the Social Security Act. Such determination was informed by comments received on the February 2015 AFCARS NPRM as well as an extensive re-evaluation of the scope of ACF’s statutory and regulatory authority.