By JooYeun Chang, Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau
As the new Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, I am pleased to announce that eight new states have been approved to conduct Title IV-E waiver demonstration projects in federal fiscal year 2013: the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee. These projects grant the states greater flexibility in how they use federal foster care funds to serve children and families. On Sept. 30, 2011, Congress provided HHS the authority to approve up to 10 Title IV-E waiver demonstration projects per year over a three year period. This marks the second year of approvals. On behalf of participating states and the children and families that will be served by these exciting new projects, I would like to thank leaders in Congress for their wisdom and leadership in granting the field this renewed opportunity to develop, implement, and evaluate these demonstrations.
There has been some innovation occurring throughout the country. State and local child welfare agencies have used non-federal funding sources to test innovative alternatives to foster care. These waivers will provide the opportunity to use the largest share of federal funding in child welfare to test these interventions at a larger scale and demonstrate what works, the true costs of the interventions, and the impact on child well-being.
Highlights of the approaches taken in these waiver demonstrations include:
Many states are also implementing systems-level interventions. Hawai’i, New York, Idaho, Rhode Island, and Tennessee are implementing new functional screening and assessment tools to better identify the unique needs of the children and families they serve. Some states, including Idaho and New York are taking a trauma-informed approach in their waiver demonstrations. Still other states like Nebraska and Rhode Island will employ some form of performance-based contracting, where funding for providers is more closely tied to achieving better outcomes for children.
I know that we in the Children’s Bureau and the participating states are very excited about the opportunities afforded to the field by the Title IV-E waiver demonstrations. The demonstrations offer greater flexibility in program design and service delivery. States are energized by the chance to spend federal funding on the types of programs they believe, and research suggests, will make the biggest difference in the lives of the children and families they serve. We are humbled by the opportunity to be part of something that will help inform the direction of federal child welfare policy in the country. Most importantly, we are inspired by this chance to direct our energy, and financial resources toward programs and services that can meaningfully improve outcomes.