California dwarfs other ‘IV-E waiver’ states with nearly $300 million award.
The U.S. Children’s Bureau has made more than half a billion dollars in grants to states that were operating child welfare waivers at the time the Family First Prevention Services Act took effect.
More than half of the $514.4 million that has been awarded this month went to California, which will receive $288.8 million thanks to a law approved in late 2019 and signed by former President Donald Trump.
The Family First Transition Act, which also included a $500 million general transition fund to help all states prepare for Family First, offered a sweetener for states that were engaged in what’s called a Title IV-E waiver when Family First took hold. The IV-E entitlement has historically been limited to foster care and adoption costs related only to children who pass an eligibility test rooted heavily on the income of their parents, based on a 1996 standard for poverty.
In the early 1990s, a handful of states were approved for waivers to test very specific interventions or services that would not traditionally be covered by IV-E funding. Since the 2000s, they’ve become more flexible in nature, enabling approved systems to simply serve groups of children who wouldn’t be covered under IV-E, or to offer a broad set of services.
|State||Fiscal 2020 Transition Award|
|District of Columbia||$18,630,074|
But the waiver process was sunsetted in tandem with the passage of Family First, which permanently expanded IV-E to include services aimed at the prevention of foster care in some child welfare cases. And because Family First also limited IV-E on the back end, halting most federal funds for group care at two weeks, states were given until 2021 to implement the law.
Most states took the delay, and waiver states faced a shortfall in funds as they shifted from their current flexible agreement to “IV-E as usual.” The Family First Transition Act offered them what is essentially a partial extension of those waivers by guaranteeing these states 90% of what they would have gotten in 2020, and 75% for 2021.
The baseline calculations for the funding came out in mid-March from the Children’s Bureau, but that is only a piece of the puzzle, and the transition grant for each state requires a comparison of the end-of-year expenditure report from the state to that baseline amount.
Of the 24 states that were operating a IV-E waiver, 15 have qualified for a transitional award thus far. Another seven have been determined not due for an award, the administration told Youth Services Insider, because they have not submitted claims or because their claims exceeded the baseline (meaning they drew more in IV-E funding in 2020 than they would have under the waiver.
Florida and Ohio, two of the largest child welfare systems in the country, have been asked for additional information before an initial award amount can be made. Given the amount of child welfare spending in those states, this could add another $100 million to this first round of waiver grants.
The waiver states that as of now are not receiving a 2020 award are Colorado, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
The only tribal government operating a IV-E waiver, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, received an award of $192,014.