The Children’s Bureau released the fifth Information Memorandum, ACYF-CB-IM-21-05, outlining the child welfare provisions included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. No program instructions or further guidance have been released yet, and unlikely that ACF will release anything before key positions or appointments are made. CWLA will continue to monitor and work with other partners to request the Children’s Bureau to release guidance immediately.
Supplemental appropriations for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) program and Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) program includes $350 million through the Chafee program for expanded transition services, and it suspends the cap of 30 percent on how much can be spent on housing costs. There is an additional $50 million for the Chafee training and education vouchers with temporary increases in the maximum voucher amount per student from $5,000 up to $12,000 per youth, with states allowed to waive the work or education requirements if a young person is unable to meet the requirements due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
A young person can be eligible for services and assistance under Chafee until the age of 27, a young person may not become ineligible for foster care maintenance payments solely due to age before October 1, 2021, and a state may not require a young person to leave solely due to age.
Other sections targeted to child welfare include allowing states that are drawing down the new Family First Prevention Services to receive a 100 percent match in federal funds for the services (through the end of the fiscal year), $75 million in additional Promoting Safe and Stable Families funding (divided between adoption support, family preservation, reunification and family support services), $10 million more for the Court Improvement Program (CIP), and a fix of a problem with the CIP that meant every time it was renewed Congress had to find an additional $20
million a year in new funds just to maintain the program without increases, a 100 percent match for expanded kinship navigator programs even when programs do not meet the evidence-based threshold established under the Family First Act. Finally, a fix to the earlier increases in the Medicaid FMAP that could have cost former child welfare waiver-states to lose relief funds and restoration of Medicaid funding for the District of Columbia due to the way an earlier COVID Medicaid relief fund was structured.