Part of the delay in the final two years of phase-out of the adoption delink from the 1996 AFDC eligibility standard as included in Family First Prevention Services Act, is that it has been challenging to get data on how states are reinvesting state dollars saved as the federal adoption assistance funding expands due to the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act.
The adoption de-link was the biggest cost in that 2008 law and so Congress included language directing states to reinvest state dollars saved. While the original 2008 legislative language was straightforward, the original HHS guidance was very flexible and less than rigorous in regard to what states had to do. In 2009 guidance, HHS indicated they would rely on states to reinvest savings.
Congress, with the support of advocates, amended the law a second time in 2011 (PL 112-34) and then because there were still was not much tracking or response, Congress acted again in 2014 (PL 113-183). Each time the amended language to HHS was more specific on how HHS would track and report that information. That savings calculation is to be done annually and published for public view and for use by state advocates and others. As the debate continued over the new bill, HHS has now released those numbers and savings by each state.
The totals indicate that states have saved $74 million in 2015. This figure covers 55 state, territories and tribal governments calculating a total of $74,402,861 in savings associated with 14,487 children. Of the FFY 2015 calculated, $28,916,487 was reported as expended in FFY 2015. The majority of these expenditures (59%) were for post-adoption or post-guardianship services (states are required to spend at least 20 percent in this way).
According to the HHS document the remaining total of unexpended FY 2015 calculated savings is $45,486,374 and these funds can be spent in a future fiscal years—something that advocates felt would be invested annually.