• April 2009
  • Vol. 10, No. 3

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From the Acting Associate Commissioner's Office

The following is an update from the Children's Bureau's Acting Associate Commissioner, Joe Bock, on the Fostering Connections legislation and how the Children's Bureau is providing guidance on implementing this new legislation.

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893) was signed into law on October 7, 2008, amending titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. Some of the major provisions are the option to provide title IV-E kinship guardianship assistance payments; the option to extend eligibility for title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship payments to age 21; changes to the adoption assistance program eligibility criteria; and the option for federally recognized Indian Tribes, Indian Tribal organizations, and Tribal consortia to directly operate a title IV-E program.

The Children's Bureau has been working to implement these changes to the title IV-B and IV-E programs. Shortly after enactment, we issued a Program Instruction (PI-08-05) providing a basic overview of the law's applicable provisions and effective dates. We also provided instructions to States on applying for delayed effective dates for certain title IV-B and IV-E requirements when State legislation is necessary for compliance. On October 29, 2008, we conducted a national call for States and Tribes to provide an overview of the law and gather preliminary questions and concerns about implementation. Other implementation activities specific to the major Fostering Connections provisions include the following:

  • For the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP)—We issued PI-08-07, which provided instruction for title IV-E agencies to submit a title IV-E plan amendment to opt into the GAP program. The PI also clarified eligibility requirements and other rules under the GAP.
  • For Tribal Title IV-E—We have conducted a number of outreach activities, including calls, meetings, and listserv announcements, and will be supporting the award of a new National Resource Center for Tribes. In addition, we have issued the following formal guidance:
    • Information Memorandum ACYF-CB-IM-08-03 was issued to notify Indian Tribes of the opportunity to directly operate title IV-E programs for foster care maintenance payments, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship assistance and to apply for grants to develop title IV-E plans.
    • ACYF-CB-PI-08-06 requests that Tribes submit letters of intent if they plan to (1) directly operate a title IV-E program and (2) apply for a one-time grant of up to $300,000 to be used to develop a title IV-E plan. Tribal Development Grants will be awarded through a competitive discretionary grant process, and we anticipate being able to award approximately five grants this fiscal year.
  • For Consultation on an Interim Final Rule—We have scheduled Tribal consultation sessions on the development of an interim final rule relating to Tribal IV-E, specifically, (1) the transfer of placement and care of children from the State agency to the Tribal agency under a Tribal IV-E plan to ensure that children retain IV-E eligibility and (2) third-party in-kind match sources and percentages for Tribes operating a IV-E program.
  • For Adoption Assistance and Other Title IV-E Program Changes—The revised eligibility criteria will begin to phase in on October 1. Title IV-E agencies will be required to submit a revised title IV-E plan to address the applicable children under the revised eligibility criteria. Additional guidance will be issued at a later date.
  • Option to Extend Title IV-E Payments Over 18—We provided general information on the option to extend payments up to age 19, 20, or 21 in PI-08-05 and PI-08-07. This provision is not effective until October 1, 2010, and we will issue more specific guidance at a later date.

Visit www.grants.gov for the latest funding announcements. Visit the Children's Bureau website at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/index.htm to review PIs and IMs.

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