In order to become eligible for federal grants, a state child welfare agency is required to ensure that youth in foster care who are 14 and older receive a free copy of any credit reports annually and get assistance in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the reports.
Here are some steps you can take to find out how to check a foster youth’s credit report.
Find out if your agency already has a contract with any of the credit bureaus and if there is a designated person responsible for pulling reports. Child welfare agencies have started setting up arrangements with the three nationwide credit bureaus, , and Caseworkers can request credit reports online for the youth in foster care under the care of their agency. While each credit bureau has a slightly different system, caseworkers can typically request the information on an individual youth or in batches. Batch requests will pull the reports of a large number of foster youth at the same time. .
Check to see if each caseworker must go through a training and certification process to pull reports.
Review the process for obtaining the credit reports. Each credit bureau’s process is slightly different and the process may depend on the particular agreement your agency or state has with the bureau.
Submit batched or individual requests for the youth’s credit reports to each credit bureau. Alternatively, you may have the option to request the reports through a mail-in (manual) process. If your agency doesn’t have a contract with the credit bureaus, consider this option.
The credit bureaus will check for credit reports matching the information your agency provided for each youth.
Some pieces of identifying information are more critical than others.
Example: The youth’s name and Social Security number are particularly important, while address may be less so, because the youth in foster care may have changed addresses recently.
The credit bureaus may have the ability to run a Social Security number only search. The caseworker or agency must request this report option specifically and not all credit bureaus may offer this. If a credit report is found using the identifying information you provided, you will receive the credit report for that identifying information.