The AFCARS Report

FY 2022 AFCARS Foster Care Data Release

AFCARS Background (AFCARS 1993)

The AFCARS final rule was published December 22, 1993; the federal regulations at 45 CFR 1355.40 implemented Section 479 of title IV-E of the Social Security Act. AFCARS was established to provide data that would assist in policy development and program management. Policymakers at the federal, tribal, and state levels use AFCARS to assess the number of children in foster care, the reasons they enter and exit care, and how to characterize other attributes of this population that could be associated with foster care outcomes. AFCARS data is collected two times per year: an “A” period (Oct 1 through March 31) and a “B” period (April 1 through Sept. 30). This report has been published since 1998 using three consecutive six-month AFCARS submissions for each release: “A” + “B” + “Subsequent A.” The “Subsequent A” submission allows for the inclusion of adoption and foster care events not available when a State submitted their “B” submission.


The AFCARS regulations were updated via the final rule published in May 2020 (85 FR 28410). The updated ACFARS supports improved and more sophisticated data analyses. Changes included increasing the number of foster care data elements collected from sixty-six to one hundred and eighty-six and adjusting the data format from ASCII to XML. The first submission of AFCARS 2020 was due May 15, 2023. Title IV-E agencies had until October 1, 2022 to prepare their data systems to collect and report AFCARS 2020 data. However, many States continue to be in a capacity-building mode with respect to collecting and submitting AFCARS 2020 data.

Publishing The AFCARS Report

The nature of the of changes described above requires CB to take additional time to fully assess and evaluate the first AFCARS 2020 submission (23A). This includes working with States to identify and address data quality issues. As a result, the “23A” data is not available for use as the “Subsequent A” file for the FY 2022 TAR. CB continues to evaluate and work with States to ensure the quality of their AFCARS 2020 submissions. Therefore, in order to ensure its timely publication, this Report uses only the “22A” and “22B” submissions as the source file.


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