HHS has revised and increased the amount given to states under the Adoption and Subsidized Guardianships Incentives Fund. The new revised figures make up for a shortfall paid out of federal fiscal year 2015 funds by taking from federal fiscal year 2016 funds.
The awards, recently expanded by Congress to both adoptions and kinship placement increases, provided just under $18 million last September despite the states earning $47 million. As a result, HHS has now released an additional $29 million.
In the beginning years of the incentive fund, created out of the Adoption and Safe Families Act, (ASFA) Congress would recognize a shortfall and provide an extra amount of appropriation that attempted to address both the shortfall of the previous year as well as the following year’s awards. Congress has stopped appropriating funds in that way and in fact in recent years has been cutting the Adoption Incentive Fund from its high of approximately $43 million to the current total of $38 million. This is the result of past appropriation sequestration across-the-board cuts. Thus despite earning $47 million last year states received $18 million. That shortfall is now made up from the current year awards but it likely means that the new awards released in September of this year are likely to be limited to no more than $10 million.
The Senate Labor-HHS appropriations continues the incentive fund at the same total of $39 million. The incentive fund, extended in 2014 is reauthorized as part of the Family First Prevention Services Act, (Title IV-B programs).
The current awards were revised in several ways as part of the 2014 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. They do not change in the current proposal:
- In addition to rewarding an increase in adoption from foster care, states are awarded based on increases in subsidized guardianships.
- The awards were adjusted in terms of categories of adoptions/guardianship placements so that $5000 is earned per increased adoptions, $4000 for overall kinship placements $7500 per pre-adolescent (9 to 14) adoption/guardianship placements, $10,000 per increase in in older adoption/kinship placements (ages 14 and older)
- The awards as always are based on an increase over the previous year but this formula is based on a rate increase instead a specific number. That is intended to allow states that have been reducing their foster care population (thus reducing the pool of children waiting for adoption) to receive an award for positive permanency policies.
- All awards for guardianships are new and the formula and the subcategory targeting ages 9 through 14 is new and is an attempt to place a greater focus on a population that have represented an increased presence in the waiting to be adopted category.