There are two child welfare programs created under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act. Despite the call for flexible funding through child welfare, these two programs have been around for decades and provide very flexible child welfare funding, although neither program has had strong support and, in fact, been continuously cut since 2005.
Title IV-B Part 1, Child Welfare Services (CWS) of the Social Security Act was first established as part of the 1935 Social Security law. It evolved over that time from a small source of federal funding for a range of children’s services from the 1930s through the late 1950s.
Until 1958, funds could not be spent in urban areas (it was assumed charities would address those child needs). The 1958 Social Security Act amendments changed that prohibition and, for the first time, required a state match based on a formula not unlike today’s FMAP formula. Expansion of Title IV-B Child Welfare Services was also tied to the 1980 creation of Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance. If states kept their foster care funding under a certain annual individual state target ceiling, the unspent Title IV-E foster care funds could be transferred into Title IV-B to fund prevention efforts. That provision was dropped more than a decade later as few states used that option.
Today CWS is provided as a 75 percent federal match. Each state share is based on the state’s population under age 21 as compared to other states. Although Congress can appropriate up to $325 million, they never have, and the highest level of funding was reached during the Clinton Administration in 1994 when just under $295 million was provided. After the last two decades of across-the-board budget cuts and budget caps, it is now down to $269 million. The question that came up in the House hearing on tribes was generated by the fact that tribes receive a small percentage of IV-B part 1 funds. It is based on an HHS calculation of the Indian child population in each state. Tribes could receive increased funding in one of three ways: create a specific set aside (like IV-B part 2-see below), increase the overall funding or increase both the set-aside and funding.
CWS also includes the Child Welfare Services State Plan that dictates what states must do to get both IV-B and Title IV-E (foster & adoption) funding. It is the most flexible child welfare fund. 2107 information from the Congressional Research Service indicates that 44 percent is spent on protective services and prevention, 12 percent on family preservation services, 10 percent for the (limited number states) for foster care maintenance, 8 percent for family support and other prevention, 10 percent for reunification, and approximately 12 percent for adoption subsidies, adoption support, foster care training, and other staff and partner training.
Title IV-B part 2, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, started in 1993 as part of the August 1993 budget agreement. It began as Family Preservation and Family Support at an initial $60 million in 1994, growing to $240 million in 1997. In response to major campaigns, in part led by CWLA in the 1980s, it was to promote family preservation programs that sought to prevent foster care placement through intensive focused and limited efforts to help families at a crisis stage. In the early 1990s, some legislation by Congressman Tom Downey (D-NY) and Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX) promoted upwards of more than $1 billion for family preservation. The smaller program is what was created in 1993.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) in 1997 revamped the program above its funding of $240 million to become the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) block grant. It added reunification and adoption support as two other services. Eventual regulations required states to allocate at least 20 percent on each of the four service categories. CWLA has continued to advocate for this specificity because while the services for family preservation, support, reunification, and adoption support could be the same, the four types of families served are not. ASFA set funding at $305 million in mandatory funding (not requiring an annual appropriation like CWS). The George W Bush Administration proposed an authorization of up to $200 million—requiring an annual appropriation (the new Administration backed away from their original legislation to increase mandatory funding by $200 million). It has never received more than $100 million in appropriations, and the services reached their peak in 2004 at $405 million. It is down to approximately $360 million today. The tribes receive 3 percent of the mandatory funds and 3 percent of the appropriated funds.
Since 2006 it has included a few added separate funds. $20 million more for the courts (in addition to the existing set aside of approximately $10 million), $20 million to fund competitive substance abuse projects, and $20 million awarded to states if they prove they are providing monthly visits to children in foster care. The $60 million for the three programs were added in 2006 after Congress cut title IV-E funding by approximately $60 million.
As a general rule, states spend at least 20 percent on the four categories, with prevention and family support getting about 26 percent of the state spending. There is a 25 percent non-federal match. The money awarded to Tribes is based on child population and granted only to tribes sufficient to generate at least $10,000 and submit a five-year Child Welfare Services Plan.