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Protecting Children in Foster Care From Identity Theft

The more than 600,000 children served by U.S. foster care each year are especially vulnerable to identity theft because their personally identifiable information can be accessed by the many adults they encounter during their time in care, including noncustodial family members, foster parents, and social services personnel. Congress enacted two laws that include requirements intended to protect children in foster care from identity theft: the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act and the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. These laws require States to conduct annual credit checks for children aged 14 or older in foster care and to help these children interpret and resolve any inaccuracies identified in credit reports. The surge in reports of identity theft and stakeholder concerns could indicate that credit checks and the resolution of credit reports may not be occurring as required by Federal law. We will evaluate records of children in foster care to determine the extent to which, in calendar year 2021: (1) State child welfare agencies implemented practices to conduct credit checks for children in foster care, (2) State child welfare agencies identified children in foster care who had credit reports that indicated identity theft, (3) State child welfare agencies supported children in foster care in interpreting credit reports and resolving cases of identity theft, and (4) the Administration for Children and Families recommended and States took preventative measures to protect children in foster care from identity theft. We will also examine demographic data to determine whether there are disparities in the provision of credit checks, the prevalence of identity theft, or the provision of preventative measures.

Announced or Revised Agency Title Component Report Number(s) Expected Issue Date (FY)
September 2022 Administration for Children and Families Protecting Children in Foster Care From Identity Theft Office of Evaluation and Inspections OEI-07-22-00510 2024