- July 2007
- Vol. 8, No. 6
Weighing the Evidence From Waiver Demonstrations
Since 1996, 23 States have developed innovative child welfare demonstration projects as the result of a waiver provision offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The scope, costs, and outcomes (where available) of these projects have been compiled in a new report prepared for the Children's Bureau by James Bell Associates.
Waivers allow States more flexibility in their title IV-E and title IV-B funding in order to create and implement the projects. Among the requirements, States must show that the projects are cost-neutral to the Federal Government, and they must agree to submit the projects to rigorous evaluations. The waivers generally have a 5-year time limit, although some have been extended, and 15 States have active waivers.
States have shown great creativity in the range of their projects, with some focusing on administrative issues in child welfare and others targeting the needs of certain groups of children or families. The demonstration projects fall into eight categories:
- Assisted guardianship or kinship care
- Flexible funding and capped IV-E allocations
- Managed care payment systems
- Services for parents or caregivers with substance use disorders
- Intensive service options
- Enhanced workforce training
- Postadoption services
- Tribal administration of IV-E funds
Some of the positive findings that emerged indicate that assisted guardianship increased permanency rates for children (in Illinois, New Mexico, and Minnesota); flexible funding allowed more children to remain in their homes to receive services rather than enter foster care (in Indiana, North Carolina, and Oregon); and enhanced substance abuse treatment for substance-abusing parents decreased child maltreatment recurrence rates in these families (in Illinois and Delaware).
As States continue to report their evaluation findings, more evidence may emerge regarding promising and cost-effective practices that promote better outcomes for children and families.
To read Profiles of the Child Welfare Demonstration Projects, visit the Children's Bureau website: