Recently, the Children’s Bureau posted a report on waivers of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. Waivers are legislatively-authorized and administratively-approved interruptions of federal regulation to allow states more flexible use of a particular funding stream. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34) recently reauthorized the IV-E waiver program, which was first passed in the mid 90’s. The application process and guidelines for the new waivers are expected to be announced soon.
The Children’s Bureau report reviews the 24 states that have implemented waivers since their inception. It provides detailed information about each state’s use of the waiver for demonstration projects, including background, intervention, target population, jurisdiction, evaluation design, outcome findings, and cost analysis.
Demonstration projects across the states include expedited reunification services, intensive service options, flexible funding, managed care payment systems, services for caregivers with substance use disorders, and enhanced training for child welfare staff. Several states also implemented subsidized guardianship demonstration projects, the success of which led to the provision in the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Fostering Connections, P.L. 110-351) that added kinship guardianship assistance payments at state option to Title IV-E. In addition, New Mexico used a IV-E waiver for a tribal administration of IV-E program. Fostering Connections also included a provision for tribal IV-E administration, recently implemented for the first time. Just as waiver demonstrations led to these federal reforms, it is anticipated that the 2011 reauthorization of waiver authority will inform refinancing of the child welfare system, a CWLA legislative priority.