- January 2021
- Vol. 22, No. 1
Summary of Child Welfare Provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260)
President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) into law on December 27, 2020. The law appropriates funds and provides flexibilities and assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including funds for certain child welfare programs.
Division X of the law, Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act, provides supplemental appropriations for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) program, the education and training vouchers (ETV) program, the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF), and the Court Improvement Program (CIP). The law temporarily increases federal financial participation (FFP) for specific programs to 100 percent, includes temporary provisions related to foster care and Chafee programs for older youth, and includes the District of Columbia in the temporary federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) rate increase enacted in the 2018 Family First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127).
Section 3: Continued Safe Operation of Child Welfare Programs and Support for Older Foster Youth
Chafee and ETV Supplemental Funding
- In addition to the regular appropriation for fiscal year (FY) 2021, the law appropriates $400 million for FY 2021 in supplemental funding for Chafee programs, reserving a minimum of $50 million for ETV.
- The supplemental Chafee and ETV appropriation has a 100 percent federal match (normally this is 80 percent).
Maximum ETV Award Amount
- Increases the maximum ETV award amount from $5,000 to $12,000 through September 30, 2022
Maximum Age Limitation on Eligibility for Assistance
- Allows states and tribes to provide Chafee and ETV services and assistance to eligible youth until age 27 for FYs 2020 and 2021 (October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2021)
Programmatic Flexibilities Effective April 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021
- Allows states and tribes to waive the requirement that a youth must be enrolled in a postsecondary education or training program or making satisfactory progress toward completing that program if a youth is unable to do so due to the COVID-19 public health emergency
- Allows states and tribes to use ETV to help support youth to remain enrolled in a postsecondary education or training program, including expenses that are not part of the cost of attendance
- Authority to Waive Limitations on Percentage of Funds Used for Housing Assistance and Eligibility for Such Assistance:
- Allows states and tribes to use more than 30 percent of its Chafee funds for room and board payments for a fiscal year
- Allows states and tribes to use Chafee room and board amounts for otherwise eligible youth who are aged 18 to 26 and experienced foster care at age 14 or older. Youth do not have to have been in foster care on their 18th birthday.
Section 4: Preventing Aging Out of Foster Care During the Pandemic
Addressing Aging Out of Foster Care During the Pandemic
- The title IV-E agency may not require a youth to leave foster care solely due to age before October 1, 2021.
- The title IV-E agency may not find a youth ineligible for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments due to age or failure to meet the education and employment conditions before October 1, 2021.
Reentry to Foster Care for Youth Who Age Out During the Pandemic
- The title IV-E agency (regardless of whether the agency has extended title IV-E foster care) must do the following:
- Permit any youth who left foster care due to age during the COVID-19 public health emergency (currently beginning January 27, 2020 through January 20, 2021, subject to be extended) to voluntarily reenter foster care
- Provide notice of the option to reenter foster care to specified youth and conduct a public awareness campaign about this option
- Youth who reenter foster care during the emergency period of April 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021 may not be determined ineligible for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments solely due to age or the education/employment conditions before October 1, 2021.
Section 5: Family First Prevention Services Program Pandemic Flexibility
- From April 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, the FFP is 100 percent for the title IV-E prevention program, including for allowable service, administrative, and training costs.
Section 6: Emergency Funding for the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program
- The law appropriates $85 million in supplemental funding for FY 2021 for programs under title IV-B, subpart 2. Of this amount, $75 million is for supplemental grants to states and tribes for the PSSF Program.
- Deems the FFP for the supplemental PSSF funds to be 100 percent (normally this is 75 percent)
Section 7: Court Improvement Program (CIP)
- Reserves $10 million from the $85 million in supplemental title IV-B, subpart 2, program funding to address needs stemming from the COVID-19 public health emergency
- Reserves $500,000 for tribal court improvement from the $10 million in supplemental CIP funding
- The 25 percent match for state courts does not apply to the supplemental grants.
Section: 8 Kinship Navigator Programs Pandemic Flexibility
Inapplicability of Matching Funds Requirements
- From April 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, the FFP is 100 percent for title IV-E kinship navigator programs to be used for specified activities.
Waiver of Evidence Standard
- From April 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021, the evidence-based standards are waived, but title IV-E agencies must provide an assurance that the title IV-E kinship navigator program will be, or is in the process of being, evaluated for the purpose of building an evidence base to later determine whether the program meets the title IV-E evidence-based standard requirements.
The Children's Bureau provided information to states, tribes, and courts on January 7, 2021, on the child welfare provisions in division X the Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act, P.L. 116-260. The link to the recording of the webinar can be found on the Children's Bureau's website.