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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Child Welfare: A Detailed Overview of Program Eligibility and Funding for Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Kinship Guardianship Assistance under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act

Emilie Stoltzfus
Specialist in Social Policy

Under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, states, territories, and tribes are entitled to claim partial federal reimbursement for the cost of providing foster care, adoption assistance, and kinship guardianship assistance to children who meet federal eligibility criteria. The Title IV-E program, as it is commonly called, provides support for monthly payments on behalf of eligible children, as well as funds for related case management activities, training, data collection, and other costs of program administration. In FY2011, states (including the 50 states and the District of Columbia) spent $12.4 billion under the Title IV-E program and received federal reimbursement of $6.7 billion, or 54% of that spending. At the federal level, the Title IV-E program is administered by the Children’s Bureau, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

More than two-thirds of all Title IV-E spending supports provision of foster care, which is a temporary living arrangement for children who cannot remain safely in their own homes. Title IVE foster care maintenance payments are subsidies provided to foster caregivers to support the daily living costs of eligible children. Title IV-E program administration primarily supports caseworker and agency efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of each child in foster care and to plan for, and achieve, permanency for them via family reunification, adoption, or legal guardianship. Just 29% of the $8.3 billion in total (state and federal) Title IV-E foster care spending for FY2011 was used for maintenance payments, while close to half (46%) of those Title IV-E foster care dollars supported program administration (primarily for case planning and case management).

Close to one-third of all Title IV-E spending (state and federal) supports children in permanent adoption or guardianship placements. Title IV-E adoption assistance payments are monthly subsidies provided for eligible adopted children (most of whom were previously in foster care), for whom the state determined they could not be returned home and that there was a condition or factor that precluded their adoption without assistance (e.g., age, medical condition, or membership in a sibling group). Kinship guardianship assistance payments are ongoing subsidies for eligible children placed with a legal relative guardian, for whom returning home from foster care is not possible or appropriate and for whom the agency also determines adoption is not appropriate. In FY2011, more than 80% of the total spending for Title IV-E adoption assistance ($4.0 billion) and Title IV-E kinship guardianship assistance ($51 million) supported ongoing subsidies for eligible children.

States receiving Title IV-E funding are required to provide foster care and adoption assistance to eligible children. They may also choose to provide kinship guardianship assistance to all eligible children. Federal eligibility for all types of Title IV-E assistance is limited by age. Additional criteria vary by the kind of assistance but often require children to have been removed from low income households. Each month during FY2011, an average of 168,400 children received a Title IV-E foster care maintenance payment and 413,800 received Title IV-E adoption assistance. On a national basis, children who received Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments comprise less than half of all children in foster care and about one-quarter of those receiving ongoing adoption subsidies.

The number of children in foster care overall, as well as the number of those children receiving Title IV-E foster care support has been in decline for most of the past decade; the amount of money spent for Title IV-E foster care is also declining. During most of the same time period, however, the number of children receiving Title IV-E adoption assistance and the amount of spending for Title IV-E adoption assistance grew rapidly. Although representing a small part of the program now, both the number of children assisted via Title IV-E kinship guardianship assistance and the amount of spending for that purpose are expected to increase.

Date of Report: October 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 76
Order Number: R42792
Price: $29.95

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