Time Nearly Up to Comment on Trump Delays, Rollbacks to Foster Care Data

As Youth Services Insider reported back in March, the Trump administration has indicated that it might roll back some or many of the Obama-era changes to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), which is how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports state and national data on child welfare.

Sen. Ron Wyden has held up confirmation of a key child welfare nominee over the proposed delays and changes to AFCARS.

The changes were mostly prompted by new requirements in law, which include reporting on disrupted adoptions, more information on Native American children, and data about sexual orientation. The administration plans to delay the new data collection until 2022, but is also considering the cancellation of some new data points.

HHS opened up the process to new changes on what will be collected, meaning it could remove or add to the elements described in the Obama administration’s rules. It invited comments on what data elements are “overly burdensome for state and tribal Title IV-E agencies and explain why.”

The deadline for those comments is next Wednesday, June 13.

The Trump administration’s announcement that it would delay and reconsider the new rules prompted an outcry in March from Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee, which is considering the nomination of Lynn Johnson, Trump’s pick to lead child welfare at HHS. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member on the committee, said he would not support her confirmation while the administration held the rule up.

Wyden characterized the administration’s approach as “starting from square one,” which he called “indefensible.”

“For all those people watching [at HHS], while I’ve seen you do good work, I won’t clear you with my support unless there is a timeline to get this rule out,” he said to Johnson, during her March confirmation hearing.

Johnson was nominated by Trump in the summer of 2017. There has been no action by Finance since her hearing, and she does appear on the list of nominees to be discussed at the committee’s next hearing on Tuesday.

For those interested in commenting to HHS on the plans, click here.

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