• June 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 5

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Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Projects

The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (Public Law 112-34), signed into law by the President on September 30, 2011, renewed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS's) authority to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in child welfare programs. HHS has the authority to approve up to 10 new child welfare waiver demonstration projects in each of the fiscal years 2012-2014.

New application and eligibility criteria, as outlined in the law, are as follows:

  • Tribal Eligibility: An Indian Tribe, Tribal organization, or consortium approved to operate a title IV-E program is eligible to apply to conduct demonstration projects.
  • Duration of Demonstration Projects: New demonstration projects may be conducted for up to 5 years, and extended with HHS approval. However, all current and new projects must end by September 30, 2019.
  • Goals of Demonstration Projects: Applicants must demonstrate that the proposed project is designed to accomplish one or more of the following goals:
    • To increase permanency by reducing time in foster care and promote successful transition to adulthood for older youth
    • To increase positive outcomes for infants, children, and families in their homes and communities, including Tribal communities, and improve the safety and well-being of infants, children, and youth
    • To prevent child abuse and neglect and reentry into care (section 1130(a)(3)(A) of the Act)

To be approved to conduct a demonstration project, the title IV-E agency must implement at least two "child welfare program improvement policies" within 3 years of the application. One of the program improvement policies may have been implemented prior to the submission of the application, but at least one policy must be new. The policies are listed in statute and include, but are not limited to, extending title IV-E assistance up to age 21, electing to operate a title IV-E guardianship assistance program, establishing a child welfare bill of rights for children in foster care, and implementing plans for meeting the comprehensive health and mental health care needs of children in foster care through such means as ensuring that the child has a medical home and regular wellness medical visits, and when appropriate, addressing the issue of trauma.

Guidance for title IV-E agencies interested in submitting a proposal for a demonstration waiver was released via an Information Memorandum (ACYF-CB-IM-12-05 2) on May 14, 2012, which is available on the Children's Bureau's website: 

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/policy/im/2012/im1205.pdf (490 KB)

Areas of priority for Waiver Demonstrations include:

  • Producing positive well-being outcomes for children, youth, and their families, with particular attention to addressing the trauma experienced by children who have been abused and/or neglected
  • Enhancing the social and emotional well-being of children and youth who are available for adoption, as well as those who have been adopted, with a particular emphasis on those children who have been waiting the longest or are hardest to place in order to achieve and sustain successful adoptions
  • Yielding more than modest improvements in the lives of children and families and contribute to the evidence base
  • Leveraging the involvement of other resources and partners to make improvements concurrently through child welfare and related program areas, including proposals to establish financial incentives based on the achievement of positive child outcomes

Other recently released Information Memoranda that may inform the priorities include:
 

  • IM-12-04 (PDF - 150 KB): Issued: April 17, 2012. Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being for Children and Youth Receiving Child Welfare Services.
  • IM-12-03 (PDF - 474 KB): Issued: April 11, 2012. Promoting the Safe, Appropriate, and Effective Use of Psychotropic Medication for Children in Foster Care.

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