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Children's Bureau Response to Tribal Comments

Published: December 5, 2005
Topics:
Child Welfare
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Comment: ACF should increase Tribal Allocations under Title IV-B, Child Welfare Services to 3 percent of the overall appropriation, or $8.8 million annually.

Response: The Children's Bureau will look at the President's proposed FY 2007 budget and amount of growth in the title IV-B, subpart 1 funding and determine whether this would be feasible.

Comment: It should also increase the tribal set-aside under the mandatory portion of Title IV-B, Promoting Safe and Stable Families, to 3 percent and permit all tribal consortia to apply.

Response: Both of these issues would require a change in legislation. The Children's Bureau is not able to make these changes without a change in the law.

Comment: ACF should support congressional bills providing tribal access to Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance.

Response: The administration has developed the Child Welfare Program Option proposal which would provide direct title IV-E funding to Tribes for foster care.

Comment: The Tribes request a written description of the President's flexible spending proposal.

Response: The following represents some details of the proposal for tribes:

Child Welfare Program Option

Allows States/Tribes the option to receive their foster care funding as a flexible grant for a period of five years or to maintain the program as it is currently funded. The option gives the flexibility to develop a seamless child welfare system that supports a continuum of services to families in crisis and children at risk.

Those entities that choose the grant option will be able to:

  • use the funds for foster care payments,
  • develop innovative and effective systems for preventing child abuse and neglect, keeping families and children safely together,
  • increase permanency efforts (including subsidized guardianships),
  • provide case management,
  • conduct administrative activities (including developing and operating information systems),
  • conduct training for child welfare staff and other such service related child welfare activities.

Other features of the proposal include:

Continued Focus on Child Safety, Permanency, and Well-Being - Tribes must continue to meet existing child protections, including those contained in the Adoption and Safe Families Act. The Department will continue to conduct Child and Family Services Reviews to ensure that States are achieving positive safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes for children.

  • Each Tribe participating under the option will have to provide assurances that it will operate a pre-placement preventive services program designed to help children at risk of foster care placement remain safely in their homes and a foster care program for children who cannot remain at home safely. Tribes must also assure that they will provide, or make arrangements with a State or the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide, a system for child abuse and neglect reporting and prevention, adoption assistance and/or other permanency supports (i.e. guardianship), and independent living services.
     
  • The Secretary may waive burdensome requirements that do not compromise child safety, permanency and well-being, on a case-by-case basis. HHS may approve a waiver only if the tribe has demonstrated that it has an alternate mechanism for complying with the intent of the provision.

Reduce Administrative Burden - The flexible grant will give relief from burdensome administrative activities, such as AFDC eligibility determinations and cost allocation plans.

  • In general, Indian tribes must report case level data consistent with existing AFCARS requirements. However, on a case-by-case basis, the Secretary may waive the requirements for case-level data in favor of aggregate data on children in foster care and adopted with the involvement of the tribal agency.