The Administration included in the budget a new strategy to expand and strengthen the child welfare workforce. The budget request would amend Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance law to expand state access to current training funds.
Currently states can receive a 75 percent match on state dollars spent on worker training. This funding, since 2008, can be used for private agency staff as well as public agency staff as long as it flows through the state agency. The funding however is complex. States can only extend such matching funds based on what percentage of a worker’s caseload is IV-E eligible. For example, if 50 percent of a worker’s foster care caseload is eligible for Title IV-E funding (due to the link to the 1996 AFDC cash assistance law), then only 50 percent of that workers training costs is eligible for the 75 percent match. That is complex and sometimes financially risky for states.
The new proposal would allow the use of Title IV-E funding for BSW/MSW education without regard to what percentage of a worker’s caseload is covered by Title IV-E foster care. This proposal allows states to directly charge all the costs of education to receive a BSW or MSW to the title IV-E program and eliminate the cost allocation requirements.
By eliminating the allocation of costs it is hoped that the proposal will decrease the financial burden and incentivize states and encourage them to support more caseworkers in obtaining a BSW or MSW degrees. The proposal would make the training contingent on a service requirement for recipients of this support.
In addition, the Administration proposes an enhanced Title IV-E match for BSW/MSW caseworkers. Citing recognized research that a better educated workforce will result in positive permanency outcomes for children in foster care and children who are at-risk of entering foster care, the proposal would encourage states to enhanced the workforce through this higher federal match rate for caseworkers with BSW or MSW degrees. State agencies achieving substantial improvement in hiring caseworkers with BSW or MSW degrees will be eligible for an enhanced match as well.
CWLA expects to focus some attention to the workforce issue April 18-20, 2016 CWLA National Advocacy Summit, Washington DC: Investing in What It Takes: A Full Continuum of Care REGISTER NOW!