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Home > Advocacy > Financing Child Welfare Services > The Child Protective Services Improvement Act (H.R. 1534)

 
 

The Child Protective Services Improvement Act
(H.R. 1534)

The Child Protective Services Improvement Act (H.R. 1534) was introduced on April 1, 2003, by Representatives Ben Cardin (D-MD), George Miller (D-CA), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Jim McDermott (D-WA). This comprehensive legislation provides new resources to address the needs of abused and neglected children and improve the system designed to protect and care for them.

H.R. 1534 provides new funding to help states implement strategies to expand and improve their child welfare system, including the expanded use of child welfare waivers. The legislation will also help public and private child welfare agencies better secure and maintain a stable and well-trained child welfare workforce. New funds are also provided to address the substance abuse treatment needs of families in the child welfare system and to ensure that more children are eligible for federal foster care and adoption assistance. The bill also provides first time federal assistance to support kinship guardianship as a permanency option for some children.

Title I-Ensuring Child Safety By Paying For Performance

Amends Title IV-B of the Social Security Act to create a new grant fund of $100 million per year for 2004 and 2005 and a bonus fund of $100 million per year for 2006, 2007, and 2008. States are awarded funds based on the number of children under the age of eighteen. To qualify for the grant program, a state must have a corrective action plan approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a result of its Child and Family Service Review.

Qualifying states for the bonus fund are those states HHS has determined to have made significant progress in achieving the goals of their corrective action plan. States may not use federal funds to supplant or replace state spending.

Title II-Supporting Quality Front-Line Workers

Amends Title IV-B of the Social Security Act to create a $100 million per year (FY 2004-2008) grant program to assist states in implementing strategies to enhance their child welfare workforce. The funds would be distributed on a formula based on the number of children under the age of 18. State funds would be matched at a 75% rate by the federal government ($1 dollar in state funds draws $3 dollars in federal funds). Funds are reserved for the territories and 2% of the funds are reserved for Indian tribes. States are prohibited from using federal funds to supplant or replace state spending.

A state must submit a plan to receive a grant. The plan must describe a five-year strategy to improve working conditions of child welfare workers in any agency providing services under programs funded through Title IV-B and Title IV-E. The plan must also include indicators the state will use to measure progress and a budget on how a state intends to use funds. The plan must describe ways to improve working conditions, including: increasing wages of workers, increasing the number of workers, reducing the turnover rate of workers, training to improve the ability of workers, improving formal education of workers, increasing the number of workers with college degrees, coordinating recruitment strategies, providing educational scholarships, increasing the safety of the workforce, and improving the coordination of services with other state and local agencies. Strategies include both supervisory and non-supervisory staff.

HHS has penalty authority in cases where a state violates a requirement. By the end of federal fiscal year 2006, HHS shall conduct an interim evaluation with a final report due by the end of federal fiscal year 2008.

Section 202 of this bill extends federal reimbursement for Title IV-E training beyond staff employed by the state to staff employed at institutions or agencies that are state-licensed or state approved. Training funds may also be used for members of staff of agencies administering the state plan of abuse and neglect courts, agency attorneys, attorneys representing children, parents or guardian ad litem, or other court appointed advocates. The training dollars can also be used for people employed by the state, local, or non-profit child-serving agencies administering the state plan to keep children safe and provide permanent families for children.

Title III-Combating The Effects Of Substance Abuse

Title IV-B of the Social Security Act is amended to create Subpart 5, the Child Protection/Alcohol and Drug Partnerships for Children.

The bill provides for the authorization of $100 million for federal fiscal years 2004 and 2005, $150 million in federal fiscal year 2006, and $200 million for federal fiscal years 2007 and 2008. An eligible state must submit a joint application by the child welfare agency and the substance abuse agency for promoting activities that focus on families with substance abuse problems that come to the attention of the child welfare agency.

Together, the child welfare and substance abuse agencies in the state must take steps to develop and increase treatment services, establish appropriate screening and assessment tools, or improve strategies to engage and retain parents in treatment and provide after-care support. Agencies can also use the funds to increase capacity to meet these families needs in a timely way by jointly cross-training child welfare and substance abuse agency staff, to improve data collection to track the progress of these families, and to promote evaluation. This bill holds states accountable for demonstrating the progress they make with these funds.

Title IV-Increasing State Flexibility To Serve Families

The current IV-E foster care and adoption assistance eligibility standards are revised. Instead of linking eligibility for these two programs to the July 1996 now-repealed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, states may now base Title IV-E eligibility for foster care and adoption assistance to the current eligibility standard for the state's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance program.

Section 402 of this bill allows states to expand IV-E reimbursements beyond the current foster care and adoption assistance to kinship guardianship families. Eligible states will base kinship guardianship payments on the need of the family and the child. Eligibility extends to kinship guardians with a child under the age of 19 or a child under the age of 21 if he or she has a mental or physical disability. A qualifying child is a child who has been removed from the home through the courts, has been under the care of a state agency for a 12 month period, and is eligible under IV-E foster care maintenance payments. In addition, the child is not likely to be returned to the home or adopted, the child demonstrates attachment to the relative guardian, and, in the case of a child 14 years of age or older, has been consulted. The siblings of a child may be placed in the same home when appropriate.

Section 403 of this bill extends and expands the waiver authority of HHS to allow states to implement demonstration projects under Title IV-E. HHS waiver authority is extended from 2002 to 2008. Demonstrations may be implemented that promote community partnerships and coordinate agency collaborations to address child abuse, mental health, domestic violence, housing, and other services. HHS shall not limit waivers based on the number of state waivers granted, the similarity of waivers requested by states, or the number of waivers currently held by a single state. HHS is too develop a streamlined process for granting state requests of waivers.

Title V-Ensuring Adequate Funding For Prevention And Adoption Activities.

The Promoting Safe and Stable Families program is reauthorized to 2008. Mandatory or guaranteed funding in the program would increase from $305 million to $505 million. Funds are also set aside for HHS evaluation, $16.6 million is reserved for court improvement grants and the tribal set-aside is 2%.

For more information, contact John Sciamanna, CWLA Senior Government Affairs Associate, at 202/639-4919 or jsciamanna@cwla.org.

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