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September 2005Vol. 6, No. 7HHS Approves Child Welfare Waivers for Indiana and Arizona

Two States recently received approvals for child welfare waiver demonstration projects, allowing them greater flexibility in using Federal title IV-E funds to help children and families. With the award of these waivers, this funding no longer will be restricted to foster care maintenance payments but also will be used for supports and services that can protect children from abuse and neglect, preserve families, and promote permanency. For Indiana, the approval is an extension of its previous 5-year waiver; for Arizona, the approval will allow the State to operate a new child welfare waiver demonstration project to promote family reunification. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grants the waivers to encourage States to develop and test new approaches to the delivery and financing of child welfare services. In addition, each demonstration waiver project requires a comprehensive evaluation by a third party to determine the impact of the project.

Indiana's ongoing demonstration project has already shown positive results. Ninety of the State's 92 counties used the waiver to build local capacity to provide community-based services and home-based placement alternatives to more restrictive institutional placements. Each participating county received an allocation of "flexible funding slots," based on the size of its foster care population, with a fixed sum of money assigned to each slot. Children in foster care or at risk of out-of-home placement who were assigned to these slots could receive any type of service to prevent out-of-home placement or to promote family reunification. An independent evaluation of the waiver demonstration project found that in the 25 counties most actively engaged in the project, children enrolled in the demonstration were more likely to receive family preservation services, individual counseling, respite care, childcare, and basic household assistance than children in a matched comparison group who did not have access to the flexible funding provided by the waiver. Additionally, the evaluation found that children enrolled in the demonstration project were more likely to avoid foster care placement or, for those already in placement, more likely to be reunited with parents than were children in the comparison group.

With the extension of the waiver, Indiana will maintain its existing funding mechanism of capitated slots and will continue program evaluation. In addition, local child welfare agencies will receive enhanced training in implementing the waiver demonstration project.

Arizona's demonstration project will focus on services for children who have been in foster care for 9 months or less. Intensive services will be provided to expedite family reunification, reduce re-entries into foster care, prevent recurrence of child abuse and neglect, and improve family functioning and well-being. Strengths-based services will focus on helping parents enhance their parenting skills and capacities. Home-based services will be tailored to the needs of individual children and families, and Child and Family Teams will be used to facilitate family reunification.

The Children's Bureau within HHS's Administration for Children and Families continues to accept new proposals for waiver demonstration projects. The Children's Bureau also continues to work with States that have previously submitted proposals for new demonstration projects in order to develop projects that will advance State child welfare reform efforts, while also contributing to the evidence base in child welfare practice through use of rigorous evaluation designs.

For more information on current child welfare waiver demonstration projects, visit the Children's Bureau website, where updated project descriptions and summaries recently were posted at