State Policies

Note: These resources are offered as informational material only. NRCPFC does not interpret federal legislation or state policy.

NRCPFC Resources

  • Criminal Background Checks
    This document summarizes information about state policies regarding repeat criminal background checks for foster and adoptive parents. For a more detailed description of state legislation, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway document Criminal Background Checks for Prospective Foster and Adoptive Parents: Summary of State Laws

  • Firearms in Foster Homes
    This document describes state policies regarding the safe storage of firearms in foster homes.

  • Foster Care Education State Legislation and Procedures
    Prepared for an NRCPFC teleconference by Kathleen McNaught, ABA Center on Children and the Law. This document summarizes state legislation that addresses educational issues for children and youth in foster care.

  • Foster Care Maintenance Payments
    We have gathered the latest information available to us on foster care maintenance payments. Download this document to find out how much each state provides for children in foster care.

  • Foster Home Licensing
    This document provides links, where available, to online state regulations and policies regarding foster home licensing requirements. In addition, we provide some basic information regarding licensing agency, types of license, kinship care provisions, and dual (foster/adoptive) licensing.

  • Foster Parent In-Service Training
    States have a variety of policies regarding in-service training for foster parents. We have assembled those we were able to locate here. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all policies. Areas covered are: mandatory annual training requirements; acceptable source of training (provider, modality); content of training; funding issues; source of requirement (statute, policy, etc.); and consequences of non-compliance.

  • Foster Parent Pre-Service Training
    States have a variety of policies regarding mandatory pre-service training for foster parents. We have assembled those we were able to locate here. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all policies.

  • Levels of Care
    The term "level of care" represents a service delivery model based on a continuum of care, ranging from least restrictive to most restrictive placement settings. Common characteristics of this model include set criteria for determining a child's physical, emotional, and social needs, placement requirements, and payment schedule. States may vary according to the number of care levels they identify and the types of services associated with each level. We have gathered information on many state levels of care program through the National Data Analysis System (NDAS), Internet sources and direct contact with state agencies. The type of information available is as varied as the systems in use in the states. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all policies.

  • Liability Insurance/Damage Claims for Foster Parents
    Foster parents are placed in a vulnerable position when they choose to foster if they do not have liability insurance to protect themselves financially from any harm or damage that children in their care may incur or inflict. Many studies identify liability insurance - subsidized or provided at no cost to foster parents - as a key to retaining qualified foster parents. This paper provides state-specific information on arrangements under which various states are addressing the issue of liability and damage claims for foster parents. We have assembled those policies we were able to locate. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all policies.

  • Licensing Standards for Residential Placement Facilities
    We have collected links to state licensing standards for residential placement facilities in this document.

  • Limitations on the Number of Children in a Foster Home
    Almost every state limits the number of children that can be placed in a foster home. Many make exceptions in certain cases, often in order to keep a sibling group together. This document lists the limitations and exceptions.

  • Sibling Placement Policies
    States have a variety of policies regarding the placement of siblings in temporary out-of-home care. We have assembled those we were able to locate here. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all policies.

  • Sibling Visiting Policies
    Excerpts from and links to individual state policies on visiting between siblings in temporary out-of-home care.

  • Smoking Policies for Foster Parents
    States have a variety of policies regarding smoking in the presence of children in out-of-home care. We have assembled those we were able to locate here. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all policies.

  • State Child Abuse Registries
    The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 requires states to perform child abuse registry checks on "any prospective foster or adoptive parent and on any other adult living in the home of such a prospective parent, and request any other State in which any such prospective parent or other adult has resided in the preceding 5 years, to enable the State to check any child abuse and neglect registry maintained by such other State for such information..." This document provides contacts for some state registries, availability of information, and procedures for obtaining it.

  • State Fact Sheets on Foster Care
    The NRCPFC prepared these fact sheets about foster care for the National Foster Care Month campaign. Most data was supplied by the Children's Bureau for Fiscal Year 2003. Some states have provided more current statistics from their own data systems.

  • Training for Kinship Caregivers
    States have a variety of approaches regarding training and assessment for kinship caregivers. We have assembled some here. Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all training policies.

  • Visiting Between Children in Care and Their Families: A Look at Current Policy
    Peg Hess of the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina authored this study of state visiting policies for the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections.

Resources from the States
Additional information may be available from websites and other resources provided by individual states:

    • California
      This website from the California Department of Social Services provides several resources, including a list of contacts for other state's Child Abuse and Neglect Registries developed by the agency.

    • Michigan
      The Department of Human Services in Michigan has prepared this spreadsheet containing information they have collected from other states.

    • Texas
      This site is provided by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Other Resources

  • Resource Lists for State Child Welfare
    Resource lists from the Child Welfare Information Gateway provide the latest information on State child welfare and adoption websites. For information on one particular State, go to the National Foster Care & Adoption Directory and search by State and topic. The lists are:

  • Online Resources for State Child Welfare Law and Policy
    The Child Welfare Information Gateway has gathered online sources of State statutes and policy, where available.

  • State Child Welfare Legislation
    The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has produced a report describing significant State legislation related to child welfare issues enacted in 2005. It includes citations and summaries of specific child-welfare-related laws in each State. The report was produced for the Children's Bureau by the Technical Assistance to State Legislators on the Child and Family Services Reviews Project, managed by Johnson, Bassin & Shaw (JBS),Inc. Reports for previous years from NCSL are also available:

    NCSL also provides several resources on state actions taken as a result of passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, including:

    • A searchable database of state legislation enacted in response to ASFA, which contains provisions on permanency hearings, clarification of reasonable efforts, termination of parental rights and much more; and
    • State-by-state tables analyzing state ASFA legislation.

    Highlights of Recent Kinship Care State Legislative Enactments
    This document from NCSL highlights recently enacted State legislation addressing kinship care for children receiving child welfare services. Legislation is described in the following areas: allowing grandparents and other relative caregivers to access medical care and treatment for children; allowing caregivers to enroll children in schools; promoting the placement of children with relatives; subsidizing guardianship and providing kinship foster care and other caregiver subsides and supports; allowing informal caregivers to qualify as de facto custodians with the right to initiate proceedings for appointment of a guardian; establishing a variety of study groups, task forces and oversight committees charged with examining issues facing kinship care providers; and authorizing kinship care navigator projects to help caregivers navigate their way through various systems such as child welfare, child care, TANF, health, legal/judicial, education and other services. Different State initiatives in each of these areas are described.

    Selected State Kinship Care Legislative Enactments, 1997-2005
    This document from NCSL summarizes legislation that was enacted in 34 different States from 1997-2005 that addresses kinship care for children receiving child welfare services.

    Trends in U.S. Foster Care Adoption Legislation: A State by State Analysis
    This report, released in connection with National Adoption Day in 2006, provides a first look at legislation specifically related to the adoption of children from foster care introduced in the 50 state legislatures and the District of Columbia between 2002 and 2006. In addition to identifying trends in foster care adoption legislation, this analysis also takes an in-depth look at eight bills, to understand the legislative process surrounding adoption. Finally, this report examines services that support families after they adopt children from foster care, called post-adoption services and supports.

  • 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.

  • DHHS Office of Inspector General Reports on Caseworker Visits with Children in Foster Care
    The OIG issued two reports examining states' ability to track the frequency of caseworker visits to children in foster care. The OIG was directed to determine whether or not states had standards for visits by caseworkers, the extent that states issue reports on such visits, and the extent to which children were actually visited. The report indicated that 43 states had written standards calling for caseworkers to visit children in foster care at least monthly. The OIG also concluded that only 20 states of the 51 reviewed demonstrated their ability to actually produce statewide reports. Of these 20, seven states indicated that, on average, fewer than half of children in foster care were visited monthly. The OIG recommended that the Administration for Children and Families in HHS work with states that have limited or nonexistent automated capacity to develop such a system. For states where the capacity exists, HHS should work with states on ways to ensure visits are being recorded. The reports are:

  • Report of CWLA's Survey of State Independent-Living Coordinators
    The Child Welfare League of America surveyed state independent-living coordinators to gather information about state policies and practices that affect housing outcomes for young people leaving the foster care system.

  • The Continuing Evolution of State Kinship Care Policies
    This paper from the Urban Institute provides an update of previous reports, based on a 2001 survey of state kinship foster care policies. It indicates that many states continue to provide alternatives to their nonrelative foster care licensing process for kin, while trying to also meet Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) safety requirements. While most states give preference to kin, there are many kin caring for children in foster care who are not eligible to receive foster care payments.

  • National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts: Review of State CPS Policy
    This report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presents the findings from an analysis of state CPS policies. Chapters on administration, screening and intake, investigation and alternative response are included. Policy manuals covering these functions were reviewed for all states and the District of Columbia. Forty-eight states participated in confirmation interviews designed to clarify policies in written materials.

  • Hitting the M.A.R.C.
    This study from Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parent Association and the University of Maryland School of Social Work presents a nationwide, state-by-state calculation of the real cost of supporting children in foster care. The report proposes a new standard rate for each state to use in fulfilling the federal requirement to provide foster parents with payments to cover the basic needs of children in foster care, including food, shelter, clothing and school supplies.

  • State Fact Sheets on Foster Care
    Fact sheets from Kids Are Waiting, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

  • State Fact Sheets for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children
    In a national partnership, Children's Defense Fund, AARP, Casey Family Programs, National Center for Resource Family Support, The Brookdale Foundation, Child Welfare League of America, Generations United, The Urban Institute, and Johnson & Hedgpeth Consultants compiled and released state fact sheets that include: newly available Census data on the number of grandparent caregivers; a comprehensive list of kinship care family resources and services; state foster care policies for kinship caregivers; information about key public benefit programs; and state kinship care laws.

  • State Kinship Foster Care Licensing and Payment Policies
    A table from the Urban Institute summarizing state policy as of 2001.

  • State Responses to Allegations of Maltreatment in Out-Of-Home Care
    The goal of this state policy analysis from Child Welfare League of America and Casey Family Programs is to report on the degree to which state statutes and agency policies provide clear direction for the investigation of and response to reports of maltreatment of children who are in foster care. Sixteen states responded to a survey with sufficient materials to be included in the full analysis. Less-detailed information was received from eight other states either through e-mail communications or online resources. Although these states are not included in the detailed analysis, a brief report on materials received from these states is included in a separate discussion.

  • First Star
    First Star, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving life for child victims of child abuse and neglect, provides State profiles on child abuse and neglect and on the results of a survey on the ways state court systems work for children.

  • State Kinship Care Policies for Children that Come to the Attention of Child Welfare Agencies
    This report, State Kinship Care Policies for Children that Come to the Attention of Child Welfare Agencies: Findings from the 2007 Casey Kinship Foster Care Policy Survey, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs, is the result of interviews with state child welfare agencies around the country about their kinship care practices. Particular attention is given to the engagement of relatives in order to divert the need for children to enter foster care. (December 2008)

  • Review of State Policies and Programs to Support Young People Transitioning Out of Foster Care
    This report, by Amy Dworsky and Judy Havlicek, provides a comprehensive review of state efforts to support youth transitioning out of foster care. As part of the review, Chapin Hall administered a web-based survey of state independent living services coordinators that covered a number of domains including conditions under which foster youth can remain in care after turning 18, independent living and transition services provided, opportunities for youth to reenter care, and how state dollars are used to supplement federal funds. (2009)

  • Child Welfare State Policies Guide
    A Child Welfare State Policy Guide is available on the website, which presents research-informed policies for improving the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families involved in the child welfare system. This user-friendly guide allows easy identification of state policies that promote strong families, supportive communities, and effective systems, which are the key ingredients for preserving child safety and well-being in permanent homes. (2009)

  • A Compilation of State and Provincial Laws, Policies, Rules and Regulations on Family Group Decision Making and Other Family Engagement Approaches in Child Welfare Decision Making
    This document by American Humane compiles state and provincial laws that identify family group decision making (FGDM) and other family engagement approaches in the United States and Canada. This compilation was created through an Internet search, using a series of key words to identify state laws, policies, rules, and regulations. Given the limitations of this methodology, American Humane recognizes that the material may be outdated and/or incomplete (and encourages the submission of updates, additions, and revisions). (March 2009)

  • How States are Implementing the Fostering Connections Act
    American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and its affiliate the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators (NAPCWA) have collected information on how states are implementing the Fostering Connections Act of 2008.

  • State Statutes: Access to Adoption Records
    In nearly all States, adoption records are sealed and withheld from public inspection after an adoption is finalized. This State Statutes publication from the Child Welfare Information Gateway outlines procedures that most States have that allow parties to an adoption to obtain, from an adoption record, non-identifying and identifying information about an adopted person and the adopted person's birth relatives. It provides definitions of non-identifying and identifying information, an overview of who may access such information, and information about access to original birth certificates.

  • Policy Actions to Reduce Racial Disproportionality and Disparities in Child Welfare: A Scan of Eleven States
    Eleven states, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington, have been identified as directly addressing disproportionality and disparities through public policy measures. To obtain a more in-depth understanding of these activities, state officials in six states (California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas) were contacted and interviewed about their efforts in the child welfare system. The focus of this analysis is on state-initiated legislative policy; reform efforts by local governments and court systems to reduce the disparities and disproportionate representation of children of color in foster care are not captured here.  This paper was prepared by the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare. (2009)

  • Cross-Reporting Among Responders to Child Abuse and Neglect: Summary of State Laws
    This resource, available through the Child Welfare Information Gateway, reviews States' requirements for child protective and law enforcement agencies to share information and work cooperatively in responding to reports. Summaries of laws for all States and U.S. territories are included. (2010)

  • Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in the States: Policies and Possibilities
    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 may be prompting many states to evaluate their child welfare policies and practices, including those related to foster care licensing and case-by-case waivers that may be needed in the cases of children placed with relatives. In an effort to provide states with critical information as they examine their licensing policies and practices, this document, available on the CLASP website, presents background information on licensing for relatives. It also includes an overview of Title IV-E (of the Social Security Act) reimbursement for relative foster homes and information on the current landscape of waivers of foster home licensing standards, as well as recommendations for licensing standards that can help further the goal of maintaining family connections for children in foster care. (September 2010)


Last updated 12/29/10