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April 2017Vol. 18, No. 2Introduction to Child Welfare Funding

Child welfare funding can come from a variety of places, such as Federal, State, and local sources. The research brief, An Introduction to Child Welfare Funding, and How States Use It, published by ChildTrends, provides an overview of child welfare funding. It also describes how States use and access funds to achieve their goals, including where funds come from, how States make decisions about funding sources, challenges they face in accessing funds, and title IV-E funding and waivers, which allows for more flexibility in how the funds are spent.

The brief also provides advice and examples of best practices based on interviews with child welfare agency officials in 10 States (Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin) that represent a significant proportion of the total national child welfare expenditures and have a current or previously approved title IV-E waiver.

The interviews supported several key findings:

  • The limit on the amount of Federal funding and the restrictions on how they are used pose challenges to policymakers and child welfare agency decision makers as they decide how best to allocate funds to meet the needs of children and families at risk of abuse and/or neglect.
  • Factors such as the State economy, media attention, and leadership strength contribute to shifts in State child welfare funding.
  • State policymakers and decisionmakers are invested in new and innovative methods to support children and families, such as strategies that help children remain at home with their families and increasing support for youth transitioning out of foster care.
  • State child welfare agencies and State decision makers reported that the flexibility of title IV-E waivers helps reduce the obstacles they face accessing Federal money for vulnerable children in their States.

The strategies and concerns addressed in the brief can help inform agencies as they make decisions to ensure the health and safety of the children, youth, and families they serve.

The research brief, An Introduction to Child Welfare Funding, and How States Use It, is available at  (960 KB).