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Children's Bureau Response to Tribal Comments

Published: December 5, 2005
Topics:
Child Welfare
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Funding for Indian Tribes - We propose a set-aside for Indian Tribes or consortia that can demonstrate the capacity to operate a title IV-E program. Indian Tribes will have similar program requirements as do States; however, the Secretary will have the authority to waive certain State program requirements that are burdensome to Indian Tribes but do not affect or compromise child safety. The Indian Child Welfare Program Option Plan must include supporting documentation that demonstrates that the tribe or consortium has policies and procedures that are essential to the operation of a foster care program that can assure a child's safety, permanency, and well-being.

Specifically, tribes must have:

  • Legal codes that govern tribal responsibility for the protection of children, that provide for tribal placement and care responsibility for children that cannot remain safely at home, and define tribal authority for judicial proceedings and judicial determinations regarding 'contrary to the welfare,' reasonable efforts and permanency decisions.
     
  • A designated agency with the ability to administer the program.
     
  • Procedures to meet the case review requirements (i.e., case plans, periodic reviews, permanency hearings, termination of parental rights).
     
  • Provisions to conduct background checks and license foster family homes within a tribe's jurisdiction.
     
  • Three years of financial stability and management as evidenced by having no uncorrected significant and material audit exceptions under Federal grants or contracts.

  • Tribes will have through June 30 of the first fiscal year that the Child Welfare Program Option is authorized, to submit a plan [one year longer than States], for implementation to begin no later than the beginning of the second fiscal year of authorization. Tribes whose plans are approved must commit to the Option through the end of the five-year authorization period.
     
  • Tribes may carry over their individual allotments through the end of the authorization period. Funds will remain available until expended. If the authorization continues to exist at the end of the authorization period, funds may roll over to subsequent fiscal years. If the Option authorization expires, then unspent funds will be available (up to these time limits) under the title IV-B subpart 1 Child Welfare Services Program.
     
  • Reimbursement for Tribes' indirect costs shall be according to the rates Tribes have negotiated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for use in federal programs.
     
  • Tribes shall provide an assurance that grant funds will be used to supplement and not supplant non-Federal funds that would otherwise be made available for these activities or purposes.
     
  • Federal oversight will be provided through the plan approval, partial reviews and through mid-point assessments, for each entity operating under the Option.
     
  • Tribes may carry over their individual allotments through the end of the authorization period. Funds will remain available until expended. If the authorization continues to exist at the end of the authorization period, funds may roll over to subsequent fiscal years. If the Option authorization expires, then unspent funds will be available (up to these time limits) under the title IV-B subpart 1 Child Welfare Services Program.
     
  • No non-federal match is required of Tribes.
     
  • A tribe that has an approved plan under the Child Welfare Program Option is not prohibited from continuing or entering into an agreement under section 472(a) of the Social Security Act for the payment of foster care maintenance payments on behalf of eligible children under the entitlement. The Option, however, does not authorize title IV-E entitlement funds for Indian tribes directly.

    State/Tribal Relations

    < >Tribes may apply for and receive funding even if the State in which the Tribe is located is not participating in the Option.

    Tribes and States shall consult with one another and coordinate the provision of services to Indian children. Tribes must serve children within their defined service area, but states may not use the existence of a tribal plan as a reason to refuse tribal children services for which they would otherwise be eligible.

    Comment: ACF should develop a separate tribal child abuse prevention fund.

    Response: The Child Welfare Option would allow for funds to be used for tribal child abuse prevention activities.

    Comment: Data measurement efforts should be expanded and used to assist states in implementing ICWA.

    Response: ACF will review the findings of its pilot demonstration grant on collecting Tribal data to assist it in determining what, if any, additional data collection activity is feasible.

    Comment: ACF's tribal technical assistance efforts should involve tribal consultation and reflect tribal priorities.

    Response: Please let us know if the individual Tribal technical assistance that you request is not satisfactory through our National Resource Centers and,if so, the reasons why.

    Comment: ACF should take a leadership role in child welfare issues that arise between states and tribes.

    Response: We believe that convening meetings, utilizing the NRCs and the Regional Office staff to help States and Tribes work through their differences is a leadership role and is helpful when utilized. Tribes should contact the ACF Regional Offices for assistance in resolving differences with States.