Children’s Bureau Letter on Termination of Parental Rights During COVID


A decision to file a TPR petition should be made in light of the impediments that a parent might face as a result of the pandemic. An agency should evaluate carefully whether parents have had a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that they have made the necessary efforts to reunify with their children before taking that step.

As such, I urge agencies to continue to consider the totality of each family’s circumstances prior to filing a TPR petition. During the pandemic and its aftermath, agencies also may want to consider instituting protocols that provide an extra layer of review prior to filing a TPR petition.

CB Letter to State and Tribal Leaders Regarding Families First and Kinship Funding


The Family First Transition Act authorized and appropriated $500 million for this new one-time grant to assist with implementation of FFPSA and other child welfare activities. The funding is available to all states, territories and tribes approved to receive grants * * * in light of the current public health emergency and the increased burdens facing child welfare agencies, the Children’s Bureau has determined that we will not require a separate application for this funding. Instead, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will proceed to make awards to all eligible grantees as soon as possible. Acceptance of the grant by the agency will indicate its agreement to provide required programmatic and financial reports.

Tribal Comments Needed for Notice for Proposed Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards

Here is the link. Comments are due by October 1.

By April 1, 2019, title IV-E agencies, which include all states and 12 tribes, must provide the HHS specific and detailed information about:

○ Whether the state or tribal agency foster family home licensing standards are consistent with the model licensing standards identified by HHS, and if not, the reason; and

○ Whether the state or tribal agency waives non-safety licensing standards for relative foster family homes (pursuant to waiver authority provided by section 471(a)(10)(D) of the Act), and if so, how caseworkers are trained to use the waiver authority and whether the agency has developed a process or provided tools to assist caseworkers in waiving these non-safety standards to quickly place children with relatives.

At this stage, HHS is trying to identify the model by which the state and direct IV-E tribes will be measured against. In this notice, the Children’s Bureau provides what they would like to use as that model: “We are proposing one set of standards for comment to apply to relatives and non-relatives, as well as state and tribal title IV-E agencies.”

The model appears problematic at best and is causing concern among both state and tribal IV-E workers and attorneys. As just one example, “i. A continuous supply of safe drinking water. ii. A properly operating kitchen with a sink, refrigerator, stove, and oven;”. We have families in Michigan that do not have a continuous supply of safe drinking water right now. What does “continuous supply” mean if you have to haul water? What is “properly operating”. There are many, many provisions like this in the model (like a functional literacy requirement), and if your tribe is concerned about getting homes licensed by either state or direct tribe IV-E agencies, this will affect you. I don’t see any comments submitted yet, or cannot access them, but if we receive good models or see ones submitted, I will post them as examples.

NICWA’s website further states: “There is no penalty for states or tribes that use different foster care standards than the national ones, but NICWA has raised concerns about how these will be used in future technical assistance and training with tribes by ACF. In addition, the national standards have not adequately taken into consideration unique cultural issues for AI/AN children and families and issues related to tribal authority to establish foster care standards.”

Tribal Title IV-E Consultation Calls with Children’s Bureau


Children’s Bureau to Host Tribal Consultations

Title IV-E Conference Calls Scheduled for March 8th and 10th

 On February 12, 2016, the Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced two tribal consultation calls regarding a new round of Title IV-E Foster Care program development grants. Title IV-E funds placement activities related to foster care, relative guardianship, adoption, and independent living services.

 This consultation opportunity comes after a 2015 General Accountability Office study of tribes’ experiences in developing a Title IV-E Foster Care program. NICWA strongly encourages any tribe that has an interest in the program to participate in the consultation or submit written comments. Tribal members are encouraged to forward this announcement on to their tribal leaders to help publicize this opportunity.

See the GAO report here.

 There have been fewer than expected tribes participating in the program to date. The consultations will provide interested tribes with information on the Title IV-E program and a chance to share their concerns or questions regarding Title IV-E and the development grants. 

 The bureau will hold tribal consultation calls to discuss this opportunity on two dates:

  • Tuesday, March 8, 2016 (11:00 am PT; 2:00 pm ET)
  • Thursday, March 10, 2016 (11:00 am PT; 2:00 pm ET)

The call-in number for both consultation calls is: 1-888-220-3087, Passcode: 8699239

Two Recent ICWA Related Reports

Children’s Bureau (part of the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families) Report analyzing the Child and Family Service Plans (CFSP) for tribal-state consultation and collaboration on ICWA compliance.


PDF(nearly 300 pages).

(I’m going to note that while the CFSPs are required by the Feds for funding, the states self-report the information in the CFSPs. Whether tribes would agree with what the states reported, or whether what they reported would be considered “consultation,” is not addressed in this report.

It might be worth it for tribes to review this report or their state’s individual CFSP [which are usually available online] to see what they say, and perhaps let the Children’s Bureau know if the tribe disagrees. This is one of the few areas where federal funding is remotely tied to ICWA compliance. In case you’re wondering, here is what the federal Administration for Children and Families considers consultation. ACF Consultation Policy )

Casey Family Programs Oklahoma Case File Review report.

Funding Opportunity: Tribal Court Improvement Program

Application Deadline: April 20, 2015

Full details available here


The Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau announces the availability of awards to provide tribes and tribal consortia the opportunity to compete for grants to enable tribal courts to:

(1) Conduct assessments of how tribal courts handle child welfare proceedings and to make improvements to court processes;

(2) Implement improvements to provide for the safety, permanency and well-being of children as set forth in the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Pub. L. 105-89) and increase and improve engagement of the entire family in court processes relating to child welfare, family preservation, family reunification and adoption;

(3) Ensure children’s safety, permanence, and well-being needs are met in a timely and complete manner (through better collection and analysis of data); and

(4) Provide for training of judges, attorneys, and other legal personnel in child welfare cases.

Grant funds may not be used to hire attorneys or judges, fill vacant court personnel positions, or otherwise supplant funding for tribal government positions.

Job Posting for Senior Advisor for Tribal Child Welfare for HHS/Adminstration for Children and Families


Job Title:Senior Advisor, GS-0301-14
Department:Department Of Health And Human Services
Agency:Administration for Children and Families
Job Announcement Number:HHS-ACF-DE-15-1245975

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·         Lead policy advice and policy direction to, and on behalf of, the Associate Commissioner in relation to tribal child welfare.
·         Provide the highest level of strategic policy advice to the Associate Commissioner on tribal child welfare.
·         Work with Deputy Associate Commissioner, Directors, Regional Program Mangers and across the Children’s Bureau to co-ordinate the implementation of the Associate Commissioner’s tribal child welfare priorities tribal child welfare legislation and programming.
·         Develop and maintain effective partnerships with a wide range of specialist stakeholders from the philanthropy, public and private sectors to ensure a fully inclusive approach to the development and implementation of the Associate Commissioner’s tribal child welfare strategies and policies.
·         Provide advice, guidance and assistance to ensure the development and implementation of policies, procedures, and systems needed to plan, develop, monitor and support work with tribes.
·         Review a variety of policy, programs and administrative actions, reports, and projects such as new and revised regulations, funding recommendation, program guidelines etc.
·         Develop methodology for and conduct special studies, independent analyses and sensitive assignments on matters related to tribal care welfare programs.
·         Recommend program improvement initiatives and regulatory and legislative strategies to improve program efficiency and effectiveness.