Tribal Planning Grants for Direct Title IV-E [Foster Care Funding] Posted


Deadline is July 15. These are grants for tribes interested in changing their codes and manuals to access direct federal funding (up to 83%) for the administration and training of their social service agencies, and maintenance payments to foster families.

If you are an in-house attorney who would like to know more about this, please let me know.

More Comments Needed! Now on Title IV-E/Families First Developments

Here. DUE JULY 22.

This one is arguably a little more complicated than usual, but also not inherently nefarious. Here’s a very quick overview (with thanks to Jack Trope for his recent presentation up at Grand Traverse Band for all the info).

In somewhat of a surprise development, Congress passed an overhaul to Title IV-E a few months ago. Title IV-E is the reimbursement program for foster care funding. Until this change, called Families First, the funding was triggered both by the removal of the child, and by the family’s income qualification.

Families First does two things–it releases funding for children who are “candidates” for foster care and removes the income qualification for services for those children and families. Allowable pre-removal services include “evidence-based”:

1. Mental health prevention and treatment services
2. Substance abuse prevention and treatment
3. In-home parenting-skill based programs

“Evidence based” Services and programs must be “trauma-informed” and “promising”, “supported”, or “well-supported” practices. HHS is to release practice criteria and pre-approved programs. There are long definitions in the quotes above, but basically:

Promising: one study with a control group
Supported: one study with random control or quasi-experimental
Well-supported: is at least two studies that used a random control or quasi-experimental trial

Finally, HHS must allow programs and services adapted to culture and context of a tribal community. No one really knows how this provision will interact with the evidence based provision above. This call for comments “solicits comments by July 22, 2018 on initial criteria and potential candidate programs and services for review in a Clearinghouse of evidence-based practices in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018.”

The HHS approved list of programs (“Clearinghouse”) will be automatically eligible for the funding. So! If you are provider who knows about such evidence-based practices for tribal youth and families, TELL HHS! Alternatively, if you work for a tribe, you might ask about how tribal consultation will fit into this process.

This may also be a partial game changer for tribes on the fence about doing direct IV-E funding with the federal government. The planning grant for that process should pop up again in the spring.

Sixth Circuit Decision on Title IV-E Maintenance Payments to Kinship Placements


Not an ICWA/Indian child case, but one that is important nonetheless given its ruling ensuring Title IV-E maintenance payments. The lack of these payments sometimes make kinship care very difficult on relative placements–Title IV-E maintenance payments cover, among other things, the child’s food, clothing, and shelter. 42 U.S.C. 675(4)(A). After determining that the aunt/foster parent established a cause of action, the court held that:

The family argues that the Cabinet approved R.O. [child’s aunt] to be a foster parent. Prior to placement, the Cabinet verified that R.O. met relevant non-safety standards by conducting a home evaluation and a background check. After determining that her home was safe, the family court moved the children from another foster provider to her care. R.O. therefore argues that the Cabinet “approved” her as a foster parent for the children.

Kentucky offers several arguments in response. Kentucky distinguishes between “foster care” and “kinship care.” According to Kentucky, “foster care” refers to licensed foster family homes. “Kinship care,” by contrast, refers to relative caregivers. Although the Cabinet must remit maintenance payments to foster parents, the Cabinet need only pay kinship care providers “[t]o the extent funds are available.” Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 605.120(5) (West 2016). Due to inadequate appropriations, Kentucky ceased funding its kinship care program.

To the extent the Cabinet’s failure to make maintenance payments turns on the distinction between relative and non-relative foster care providers, it plainly violates federal law. In Miller v. Youakim, 440 U.S. 125 (1979), Illinois placed two children with their older sister, Linda Youakim, and her husband. Id. at 130. “The Department investigated the Youakim home and approved it as meeting the licensing standards established for unrelated foster family homes . . . .” Id. Yet, “[d]espite this approval, the State refused to make Foster Care payments on behalf of the children because they were related to Linda Youakim.” Id. The Court reviewed the definition of “foster family home.” Id. at 130–31. After noting that the statute “defines this phrase in sweeping language,” the Court found that “Congress manifestly did not limit the term to encompass only the homes of nonrelated caretakers. Rather, any home that a State approves as meeting its licensing standards falls within the ambit of this definitional provision.” Id. at 135.

UPDATE (2/22/17 10:46AM) Download(PDF) Briefs: Brief of AppellantsBrief of Defendant-Appellee Vickie Yates Brown GlissonReply Brief of D.O., A.O. and R.O.

ACF Program Specialist in Child Welfare Job Opening


As a Child and Family Program Specialist within the Children’s Bureau (CB), Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), you will assist states and tribes develop and improve child welfare systems. We provide guidance and technical assistance to the states and tribes on federal law, policy, and program regulations. Our program focuses on child safety, permanency, and well-being which are paramount in our monitoring and technical assistance efforts. Program specialists participate in planning, developing and carrying out a results-focused monitoring process to improve the effectiveness of state Child and Family Service programs.

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

GAO Report on Tribal Title IV-E Programs


Link here.

Indian tribes developing title IV-E foster care programs faced resource constraints and reported challenges adopting some program requirements. According to GAO’s interviews with tribal and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, the resource constraints faced by tribes include limited numbers of staff and staff turnover. While the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act) allows tribes to administer a title IV-E foster care program, it generally did not modify title IV-E’s requirements for tribes. By contrast, some other programs administered by HHS offer tribes additional flexibilities, provided they are consistent with the objectives of the program. Given tribes’ resource constraints and cultural values, adopting some title IV-E requirements has been difficult. For example, officials from 6 of 11 tribes developing title IV-E programs that GAO interviewed said that the requirement to electronically submit case-level data on all children in foster care was challenging. In addition, 7 of these 11 tribal officials reported that incorporating termination of parental rights—which severs the legal parent-child relationship in certain circumstances—into their tribal codes was challenging because it conflicts with their cultural values. HHS recognizes that termination of parental rights may not be part of an Indian tribe’s traditional beliefs; however according to the agency it lacks the statutory authority to provide a general exemption for tribal children from the requirement.

Report here (pdf, 47 pages)

Report on Spending on Child Welfare

PDF here.

The survey of 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico found that child welfare agency expenditures from federal, state, and local sources decreased by eight percent between state fiscal years 2010 and 2012—representing the first decrease in spending that has been found since the survey began in 1996. In addition, federal spending on child welfare declined, and was found to be at its lowest level since the state fiscal year 1998 survey.

Information on Title IV-E spending and tribes on pages 31-32.

via NICWA.

Survey and Analysis of Title IV-E Tribal-State Agreements


From the ICWA NARF blog:

This report provides a detailed analysis of Title IV-E tribal-state agreements, which includes an overall summary of the status of current Title IV-E agreements, as well as a breakdown of the provisions that can be found in those agreements by subject matter. This report was prepared during a 14 month period between October 2012 and December 2013. It took into account 98 agreements representing 267 Indian Nations from 16 states that pass federal Title IV-E allowable costs to the tribes.  During that period, some agreements expired and new agreements were developed. Other agreements were replaced by direct funding programs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 679B. Thus, this report does not attempt to provide  definitive numbers of  current tribal-state agreements or their exact status.  Rather, its goal is to provide an overview of the substantive landscape of Title IV-E tribal-state agreements during a particular window of time.