Child & Family Service Reviews

(The following information is courtesy of the Children's Bureau.)

In January 2000, the Department of Health and Human Services announced important child welfare regulations that will improve outcomes for abused and neglected children, children in foster care, and children awaiting adoption. The regulations hold States accountable for services to at-risk children with a new, results-oriented approach in Federal monitoring of State child welfare programs. Under the regulation, States are assessed for compliance with Federal requirements for child protective services, foster care, adoption and family preservation and support services under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act.

The reviews cover two areas: outcomes for children and families in terms of safety, permanency and child and family well-being; and the administration of State programs that directly affect the capacity to deliver services leading to improved outcomes. Federal staff will work with States in making improvements in programs before assessing penalties and withholding funds. If a State remains in noncompliance, a financial penalty will be assessed.

The review is a two-stage process comprised of a statewide assessment and an on-site review. The combination of information from the on-site portion of the review and the statewide data provides HHS and the State with a comprehensive picture of the strengths and weaknesses in the State's program.

The National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections is one of the ten resource centers funded by the Children's Bureau/ACF/DHHS that can help states prepare for the reviews and assist in implementing program improvement plans (PIPs) that are frequently the outcome of the reviews. To request this technical assistance, please contact Stephanie Boyd Serafin by e-mail at or by phone at 212/452-7049.


  • CFSR Training and Technical Assistance Package
    The National Child Welfare Resource Center for Organizational Improvement (NRCOI) has worked with other national resource centers (NRCs) to develop a CFSR training and technical assistance (T/TA) package. This material will help agencies successfully prepare for the second round of the CFSR, enhance leadership and management capacity, and achieve better outcomes through systemic change. The T/TA should begin as States start planning for their second CFSR (or at any other time a State determines) with the approval of the Federal Regional Office. Each State agency can select any of the focus areas offered and the NRCOI will help modify the material to fit its unique needs. Regardless of the level and type of adaptation an agency wants to make to this material, the NRCOI will work with senior agency administrators, including child welfare directors, to keep them fully engaged in this process and help them customize the material. Each working session has a distinct focus and combines a presentation of content with active planning by participants for the State's implementation of the content. You can download key materials for each focus area on this webpage.

  • State and Tribal Child and Family Service Plan (CFSP)/Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR) Toolkit
    This toolkit contains all the information and forms needed to develop the State and Tribal Child and Family Service Plan (CFSP)/Annual Progress and Services Report (APSR). The toolkit provides a central location for all technical assistance documents and materials, as well as references to specific laws, policies, and checklists that relate to the development of the CFSP/APSR.

  • Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) Toolkit for Youth Involvement
    This toolkit from the National Resource Center for Youth Development is a multi-media product that will expand over time as new materials are developed and shared nationwide. The CFSR Toolkit document provides important information on how to prepare youth and adults to work in partnership to improve the nation's child welfare system.

  • Children's Bureau Resources
    The Children's Bureau web site provides many resources, including:
    • Review instruments and instructions
    • Information on participation in the review process
    • Reports and results, including promising approaches implemented by the States
    • Presentations and comments by Children's Bureau and other Federal staff

  • CFSR Brochure
    Download a brochure explaining how the NRCPFC can help your state through technical assistance, training and consultation.

  • Child and Family Services Reviews Resources
    For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on CFSRs visit the new CFSR Resources section of the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. You'll find valuable tools and resources, including: legislation/policy background; analyses of CFSR findings; information on how to improve outcomes using CFSRs; and links to State PIP plans. The site also provides a schedule for the second round of the CFSRs.

  • State Checklist for Child and Family Services Plan
    This checklist summarizes key items that are to be included in the Final Report for the five-year Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) for FY 2005-2009 and the Final Report on activities for the CFSP for FY 2010-2014.  Each line on the checklist cross-checks to the Program Instruction (ACYF-CB-PI-09-06) which provides further detail on what must be included in the Plan. Regional Offices use the checklist as part of the Plan review process. 

  • Child and Family Services Review: Technical Bulletin #4
    In ACYF-CB-IM-07-08, the Children’s Bureau provided guidance and suggested a format for preparing PIPs for the second round of CFSRs. The Children’s Bureau is now updating that information for States and CBROs with an updated Excel matrix spreadsheet as well as suggested monitoring and reporting instructions. A PIP matrix and an example completed section of a PIP using the Excel format are included with this Technical Bulletin. Additional instructions on PIP development can be found here:

  • State Data Profile Toolkit
    The National Resource Center for Child Welfare Data and Technology has created a toolkit to help states understand and work with the new composite measures for Round Two of the CFSRs. The 2006 State Data Profile Toolkit contains a general overview of the CFSR initiative, an introduction to the data used in the CFSRs, a detailed explanation of the State Data Profile, and a guide to looking at what's behind the numbers. Additionally it contains a Quick Reference Guide to the CFSR State Data Profile Elements, a CFSR Glossary, a generic discussion of composite measures and weighted components, as well as other useful documents and tools.

  • Can AFCARS Be Rescued?: Fixing the Statistical Yardstick That Measures State Child Welfare Performance
    The study from the Children and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign looks at AFCARS data collection and reporting issues as they relate to the federal CFSRs and states' ability to meet the national standards.

  • State Legislators and the Child and Family Service Reviews
    The Technical Assistance to State Legislators on the CFSRs Project has produced several resources for the Children's Bureau on engaging State legislators in the CFSR and PIP processes:
    • Focusing on Child Welfare Systems: Collaborating With State Legislators on Reform
      This report offers State child welfare agency administrators information on effective strategies for using the CFSRs to work more closely with legislators to improve child welfare systems and covers the importance of legislative engagement in child welfare and strategies for building partnerships with State legislators and engaging them in the reviews.
    • The Child and Family Services Reviews: The Role of State Legislators
    • Focusing on Child Welfare Systems: The Role of State Legislators
      These two reports offer legislators information on using the CFSRs to enhance their role in supporting State child welfare agency administrators in creating effective child welfare policies and practices. The reports discuss the CFSRs as a resource for legislators and offer strategies that legislators can use to become involved in the reviews. The first report covers these topics in a three-page brief format and the second in a longer format.
    • Supporting Improvements in Child Welfare Systems Through the Child and Family Services Reviews: A Resource for State Legislators
      This brief provides key questions for legislators and their staff to ask state child welfare agencies about child welfare system performance. It is designed to help legislators use the CFSRs to engage with state child welfare agencies regarding child welfare reform and system improvement.

  • Child and Family Services Reviews: States and HHS Face Challenges in Assessing and Improving State Performance
    This report from the U.S. General Accounting Office focuses on: (1) the experiences of the Administration for Children and Families and the states in preparing for and conducting the CFSR statewide assessments and on-site reviews; (2) experiences of ACF and the states in developing, funding, and implementing items in their PIPs; and (3) additional efforts that ACF has taken beyond the CFSR to help ensure that all states meet federal goals of safety, permanency, and wellbeing for children.

  • State Performance on Child and Family Services Reviews
    This 2005 Congressional Research Service Report describes the origins and design of CFSRs as well as state performance in the initial round of CFSRs.

  • Improving the Performance and Outcomes of Child Welfare through State Program Improvement Plans
    This paper from the Center for the Study of Social Policy presents background information on the federal legislative and regulatory context for the Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSRs) and the Program Improvement Plan (PIP), and identifies the principles and guidelines for program improvement.

  • Improving Public Child Welfare Agency Performance in the Context of the CFSRs
    Following the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been evaluating state child welfare systems using specific outcome measures. In response, states have started to adapt their processes for monitoring outcomes at the local level. This paper describes the approach used in New York State to build a robust set of outcomes, corresponding measures, and monitoring reports used the state's Office of Children and Family Services to monitor local child welfare agencies.

  • A Review of Alcohol and Other Drug Issues in the States' Child and Family Services Reviews and Program Improvement Plans
    This document provides a summary and analysis of CFSRs and PIPs highlighting the substance abuse issues included in the States' reports. 50 state reports, in addition to reports from Washington, DC and Puerto Rico and 32 PIPs were reviewed to compile this review. This version contains a new table that presents a national summary of the percent of cases with substance use disorders that were cited as the primary reason that a child came to the attention of the child welfare system.

  • An Analysis of States' Child and Family Services Reviews and Program Improvement Plans from a Youth Development Perspective
    This paper, written by the National Resource Center for Youth Development, presents an analysis of issues, relating specifically to adolescents, identified in the final Child and Family Service Review (CFSR) reports and the Program Improvement Plans (PIPs). The report analyzed reports for the presence of youth related issues and explores their ramification in the PIP process.

  • Child and Family Service Reviews 2001-2004: A Mental Health Analysis
    This analysis from the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health is based upon a review of the 52 Final Reports and 52 Program Improvement Plans from the first round CFSRs. It includes trends in mental health service delivery and administration/management noted in the Final Reports and PIPs; a summary of the mental health challenges, as well as the opportunities for reform, across all States; and issues needing further consideration and study.

  • Analysis from Youth Law News
    Youth Law News is the newsletter of the National Center for Youth Law. It is publishing a series of analyses of CFSR results.
    • Part I: January-March 2003 - A Background to the Review Process
    • Part II: January-March 2003 - An Examination of Placement and Visitation
    • Part III: April-June 2003 - Foster Parent Training: What the CFS Reviews Do and Don't Tell Us
    • Part IV: April-June 2004 - Foster Parents Do Not Receive Notice; Denied Opportunity to Be Heard
    • Part V: October-December 2005 - Most States Fail to Meet the Mental Health Needs of Foster Children

  • Friends Learning Tool 14: CBCAP and the CFSR/PIP Process
    This learning tool developed by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and available from the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP), is intended to help Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) State Lead Agencies (SLAs) have a better understanding of how they can get more involved in their states’ Child and Family Services Review/Program Improvement Plan (CFSR/PIP) process. (August 2009)

Resources from the States
  • State Documents
    The following documents are available for each of the States:
    • Statewide Assessments- Prior to the onsite review, each State completes a Statewide Assessment in which they examine their child welfare data in light of the outcomes for children and families subject to review. The State also addresses in narrative the systemic issues under review relative to their influence on the State's capacity to deliver effective services.
    • Final Reports- Following the onsite review component of the CFSRs, the Children's Bureau prepares a final report for each state containing the review outcomes.
    • Program Improvement Plans (PIPs)- States are required to submit a program Improvement Plan if found out of conformance on any one of the seven outcomes or seven systemic factors subject to review.
    • Individual Key Findings Reports, 2001-2004- Key Findings from the 2001-2004 Child and Family Service Review (CFSRs) final reports are available for each of the 50 States, the District of Columnbia and Puerto Rico.

  • Minnesota: PIP TIPS
    The state has prepared a series of resources for counties to use in their individual Program Improvement Plans. Subjects include:
    • Introducing: Program Improvement Plan
    • Worker Visits with Child
    • Visits with Parents
    • Visits with Siblings in Foster Care
    • Placement with Siblings
    • Worker Visits with Parents
    • Assessing Needs and Services
    • Involving Children and Families in Case Planning
    • Involving Fathers
    • Relative Placement
    • Mental Health of the Child
    • Physical Health of the Child
    • Timeliness of Initiating Assessments

  • Oregon: Lessons Learned and Plan of Action
    Presented in a teleconference sponsored by the National Child Welfare Center for Organizational Improvement.

  • Pennsylvania Children and Youth Administrators
    This affiliate of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania provides a page containing various resources regarding the CFSR process, as well as weekly hints for working with the reviewers.

  • Utah Human Services Office of Reviews
    The Office of Services Review was formed in 1995 as a result of legislation which requires the Department Director to annually report to the Legislature on how well outcomes are being achieved and policies are being followed in the state's child welfare system. To answer this requirement, among other responsibilities, the Office of Services Review conducts two major reviews each year, the Qualitative Case Review and the Case Process Review. On the site are clear and comprehensive guidelines for review of CPS, foster care and in-home cases
PowerPoint Presentations


Last updated 02/18/10