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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Child Welfare: Funding for Child and Family Services Authorized Under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act



Emilie Stoltzfus
Specialist in Social Policy

Under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, the federal government provides funds to states, tribes, and territories for the provision of child welfare-related services to children and their families. These services may be made available to any child, and his or her family, and without regard to whether the child is living in his or her own home, living in foster care, or was previously living in foster care. Title IV-B funds are primarily distributed via two formula grant programs. Under the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services (CWS) program, states may provide a broad range of services designed to support, preserve, and/or reunite children and their families. States are required to use funding received under the Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) program for specific categories of child and family services. Combined FY2012 funding for these two programs was $689 million ($281 million for CWS and $408 million for PSSF). This represented close to 94% of the total $730 million provided in that year for all programs and activities under Title IV-B.

The CWS and PSSF programs have overlapping purposes and are used to fund some of the same services. At the same time, the programs have distinct federal requirements and spending patterns. Many requirements under the CWS program are specific to children in foster care, including ensuring provision of certain protections for all children in foster care. Requirements under the PSSF program center on state planning for the delivery of child and family services, more generally, including establishment of goals and regular review of progress toward those goals.

Under the CWS program states must ensure provision of case review and permanency planning for each child in foster care, including those children who do not meet the federal eligibility criteria to receive those services under the Title IV-E foster care program. Spending for “protective services”—including child abuse and neglect investigations; caseworker visits to, and permanency planning for, children in foster care; and other activities—represents the largest share of federal funds expended under the CWS program. Combined, states anticipated spending more than 41% of their federal FY2010 CWS funding on that purpose. At the same time, they expected to spend close to that same share of CWS funding (more than 37%) on the four categories of child and family services for which they are required to use their PSSF funding.

States are required to spend no less than 90% of their PSSF child and family services funds on four categories of services. Family support services are considered “upfront” spending in that these dollars are spent to strengthen families so that children’s developmental needs are met and neither abuse nor neglect occurs. The three remaining categories for which states must spend their PSSF funds target some, or all, services on children in foster care and their families: Family preservation services may be used to prevent a child’s placement in foster care, or to help children in care reunite with their parents. Time-limited family reunification services and adoption promotion and support services target children in foster care—either to permit their expeditious return home or, when this is not possible, to find them a new adoptive home.

In November 2011 (P.L. 112-34), Congress extended funding authorization for the CWS and PSSF programs through the last day of FY2016. This report discusses the CWS and PSSF programs, separately, including their purposes, unique requirements, funding levels, and funding distribution. It also describes several grants and activities that are supported by funds reserved from the overall PSSF appropriation. These include the Court Improvement Program, grants to regional partnerships to improve the outcomes of children affected by parental substance abuse, 
grants to improve monthly caseworker visits of children in foster care, and funds reserved to HHS for research, evaluation, training, or technical assistance.


Date of Report: October 24, 2012
Number of Pages: 63
Order Number: R41860
Price: $29.95

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