In addition to last week’s HHS announcement on state guidance (ACYF-CB-PI-18-09) and a preliminary list of services (Attachment C) under the Family First Prevention Services Act (PL 115-123)—(FFA), the Children’s Bureau released guidance for Tribal agencies that are running their own Title IV-B and Title IV-E programs. The guidance, ACYF-CB-PI-18-10, varies and is more flexible than FFA services provided by a state child welfare agency or a plan by a state agency within a tribal community or population.

Since the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act more than 35 planning grants have been provided to tribal governments or consortia to run their own foster care and adoption assistance programs and taking Title IV-E funding directly. Through FY 2017, 11 tribes were running their own programs.

These tribal plans will be eligible to run prevention services. Due to the rigorous prevention services evidence-base requirements and the fact that few programs are culturally appropriate to a tribal community and evaluated according to those standards, HHS is providing much greater flexibility to implement these services in Indian country.

“We determined that it is not practicable for tribal title IV-E agencies to meet these same practice criteria rated as promising, supported, or well-supported for prevention services. Tribal title IV-E agencies may determine the practice criteria for services that are adapted to the culture and context of the tribal communities served and must describe the practice criteria in the five-year title IV-E prevention program plan as described below. Some examples of evidence-based practice criteria include: longevity of the practice in Indian country, teachings on which the practice is based, values and principles incorporated into the practice, community leader/elder approval, community feedback and evaluation of the practice. These are just a few examples, not a comprehensive list.”

That provides important flexibility beyond the restrictions included in the law and the initial interpretation by HHS for state programs. For states an initial list of a dozen programs was released for further review and classification as well supported, supported or promising:

Prevention Services and Programs Mental Health:
• Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
• Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
• Multisystemic Therapy
• Functional Family Therapy

Substance Abuse:
• Motivational Interviewing
• Multisystemic Therapy
• Families Facing the Future
• Methadone Maintenance Therapy

In-Home Parent Skill-Based:
• Nurse-Family Partnership
• Healthy Families America
• Parents as Teachers

Kinship Navigator Programs
• Children’s Home Society of New Jersey Kinship Navigator Model
• Children’s Home Inc. Kinship Interdisciplinary Navigation Technologically-Advanced Model (KIN-Tech)

If a child lives in a tribal community but is covered by a state plan there are two potential ways to receive services. An Indian child could be covered by state prevention of foster care services funding as any other child in the state or there is the potential that a tribe and a state that has a joint child welfare agreement could be separately covered by state services. States have the option of setting up services limited in programs but also geography and that could mean a plan targeted to Indian country. In either case however, those services are limited as the other state services. The Children’s Bureau indicates that the flexibility the law provides in regard to tribal plans is not extended to Indian children under the coverage of a state plan. The guidance states:

“This is because the exceptions permitted for a tribal title IV-E prevention program in section 479B(c)(1)(E) of the Act apply only to tribal title IV-E agencies. A tribe operating under a title IV-E agreement with a state is not a tribal title IV-E agency operating an approved tribal title IV-E plan. Instead, the tribe is implementing the state title IV-E program on behalf of the population specified in the title IV-E agreement.”

There will be two calls next week:

Call-in Information: is: 888-391-9602 with the Passcode: 13193#. If you experience any difficulties joining a call, please contact Cheryl Speed at Cheryl.speed@acf.hhs.gov
Dates and Times: MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2018 2:30 – 4:00 PM ET OR TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2018 12:00-1:30 PM ET.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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