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The Journal of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at The George Washington University


The US foster care system is stretched far beyond its capacity due to a lack of funding, limited permanent foster child placement options, and outdated foster care guidelines. To address several of these issues, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) enacted a rule in November 2023 to change the legal definition of “foster family home” in the Social Security Act to more closely align the foster care system with best practices. This paper explores how the ACF used federal rulemaking to modify foster family licensing standards, the implications for the foster care system, and additional recommendations that the ACF may consider to maximize the rule’s impact.

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