• November 2005
  • Vol. 6, No. 9

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Flexible Funding for Innovative Programming

Since the mid-1990s, the Federal Government has encouraged innovative child welfare practices through the use of waivers that permit States more flexibility in spending Federal dollars. Under the waivers, regulations that restrict title IV-E monies to reimbursement for foster care maintenance payments are broadened, giving States greater latitude to fund alternative services to promote safety and permanency for children. Since 1996, 17 States have implemented 25 child welfare waiver demonstration components, using title IV-E funding for a variety of projects. Three new reports from the Children's Bureau synthesize characteristics and key findings from a number of these waiver demonstration projects:

  • Assisted Guardianship Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations examines programs in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon that offered financial support for guardians of children previously in foster care. While outcome evaluations tracked different data in different States, evidence from one or more States suggested a decrease in length of out-of-home placements, improved permanency rates, and overall satisfaction on the part of children, guardians, and child welfare workers.
  • Substance Abuse Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations examines programs in Delaware, New Hampshire, Illinois, and Maryland that focused on the early identification of parents with substance abuse disorders and the provision of service referrals for these parents. Outcomes indicated no strong positive effects on foster care placement rates, placement stability, reunification rates, or permanency rates. However, there was some evidence that a substance abuse demonstration project may reduce the duration of foster care placements and lower the risk of maltreatment recurrence.
  • Title IV-E Flexible Funding Child Welfare Demonstrations examines the diverse programs of Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon in implementing title IV-E capped allocation flexible funding waivers. Indiana focused on building local capacity for community-based services and home-based alternatives to institutional placements. Counties in North Carolina were permitted to develop their own initiatives to provide services, while Ohio counties developed their own managed care strategies. Local child welfare agencies in Oregon implemented innovative services such as early childhood assessments and one-time payments to prevent foster care placement.

All child welfare waiver demonstration projects were required to be cost neutral and to undergo rigorous program evaluation. They also met all requirements regarding periodic foster care reviews, safety for children, permanency hearings, and case plan information.

The three reports were prepared under the direction of the Children's Bureau by James Bell Associates, Inc. Syntheses of findings are available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/index.htm#child. (Editor's note: This link is no longer active. For more information about the child welfare waiver demonstration projects, including recent reports, visit http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs/child-welfare-waivers.)

Related Item

Children's Bureau Express reported on State child welfare waivers in "HHS Approves Child Welfare Waivers for Indiana and Arizona" in the September 2005 issue.

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