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.”

Draft Guidance on the Native American Children’s Safety Act

Here is the Dear Tribal Leader letter, the guidance, and the request for comments on it:  Draft Guidance for NACSA

This bill and guidance puts certain requirements on tribes, tribal courts, and tribal social service agencies regarding foster care placements and background checks. There have been concerns about the feasibility of the requirements, primarily related to tribal access to individual state databases for the required checks. Here are the important listening session and comment dates (I have to assume that’s March 16, 2018, not 2017 for the written comment deadline):