"The electronic exchange of information between courts and child welfare agencies is a powerful tool that can lessen children’s time in foster care and efficiently provide all parties with the information they need to make timely and informed decisions about child safety, permanency and well‐being. As an increasing number of States move towards using automated information systems and electronic court orders, questions have been raised about whether electronic records are acceptable by Federal reviewers during a title IV‐E regulatory review. We are happy to announce, Federal policy under title IV‐E of the Social Security Act indicates that “e” for electronic is okay.
Regulations set forth in 45 CFR 1356.71 govern the review process used to determine a State agency’s compliance with title IV‐E eligibility provisions. As part of the Federal review process, the child’s service records, including all court orders, are examined to establish that the judicial requirements pertaining to title IV‐E are met. These include judicial determinations relating to “contrary to the welfare” and “reasonable efforts” for children who are judicially removed and “best interest” for children removed through a voluntary placement agreement. Chapter 3 of the “Title IV‐E Foster Care Eligibility Review Guide” contains relevant guidance about the use of electronic records in the regulatory review. The guide states the following:
“The State agency may use electronic files to substantiate title IV‐E eligibility. If electronic files are used on site, the State agency should make computers and technical assistance available to the reviewers for viewing the electronic records or obtain hard copies of all the files or portions of the files that contain information relevant to the review. “"