Section 1115 Waivers


Publication Date: April 2, 2020



DATE: April 2, 2020

TO: State and Tribal IV-D Agencies

SUBJECT: Section 1115 Waivers

Section 1115 of the Social Security Act provides the Department of Health and Human Services with the waiver authority to fund demonstration projects for the child support program.

  • OCSE has the authority to waive specific program requirements or funding restrictions for child support agencies to conduct limited-time activities that are designed to improve the financial well-being of children, and that are closely measured to determine results.
  • Child support agencies can use federal funds to conduct pilot or experimental activities or deliver services that would not otherwise be allowable to promote the objectives of the child support program and improve the outcomes for children.
  • Child support agencies can use private sources as the agency’s share in claiming the federal share of funding.

Some examples of activities that may be approved for waiver funding include employment programs for noncustodial parents, fatherhood or responsible parenting programs, and establishment of parenting time orders in conjunction with financial support orders.


If states decide to request a Section 1115 waiver, their cost sharing percentage is 34% as with regular child support program operations. The federal funding share is 66% to a maximum of $2 million for the duration of the project. The following are not allowable sources of the state share:

  • Incentive funding
  • TANF funding
  • State Maintenance of Effort (MOE) funding

If tribes decide to request a Section 1115 waiver, their cost sharing percentage is either 10% or 20% as with regular child support program operations. The federal funding share is either 80% or 90% to a maximum of $2 million for the duration of the project. The following are important funding considerations:

  • Public Law 93-638 funds can be used as the tribal share.
  • Tribal TANF funding is not an allowable source of the tribal share.
  • Native Employment Works funding is not an allowable source of the tribal share.

Public funds from other state or tribal agencies can be used as the agency share provided that the funds do not originally have a federal source. A waiver project can also be a public-private partnership if a foundation or other private funder contributes some or all of the agency’s share. By requesting a waiver from the requirement to fund the agency share with public dollars, the private investment becomes eligible for federal financial participation.

Waiver projects cannot disadvantage children served by the child support agency whose parents are not participating in the waiver project. Agencies requesting a waiver must be able to invest new funds to pay their share of the cost of the pilot activities. They cannot redirect funds that would otherwise have been spent on child support program operations.


Child support agencies wanting to request Section 1115 waiver authority are encouraged to seek technical assistance from OCSE before submitting a detailed application to the Commissioner of the Office of Child Support Enforcement. At a minimum, the application must address the following:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Requirements or funding restrictions to be waived
  • Geographic location
  • Caseload segment or population to be served
  • Project description
  • Communication plan
  • Implementation plan
  • Evaluation plan
  • Staffing and project management
  • Budget

Agencies will receive notice from OCSE advising of necessary revisions, and stating whether or not the request has been approved. OCSE can only grant waivers to the state or tribe, not to county or other government agencies, although the services or activities may be piloted in a localized or specific area. Project duration is typically two to five years, depending upon service or activity costs and number of parents served. An approved waiver project requires fully executed terms and conditions outlining the specific activities, implementation, timeline, budget, reporting requirements, monitoring procedures, and project evaluation.


Section 1115 requires the child support agency to evaluate the effects of the waiver project and submit the results for comparison and consideration. Waiver applications must include a detailed evaluation plan outlining the data to be gathered and the method of analysis for measuring key child support outcomes such as increased payments, reduced arrears balances, improved paternity establishment, other performance improvements, and cost effectiveness. Identify who will conduct the evaluation, how they will be committed to the project (MOU, contract, etc.), the child support outcomes that will be measured, the data that will be collected throughout the project, and the data sources and methodologies to analyze the data.

Technical Assistance

OCSE provides extensive technical assistance throughout the waiver request and approval process, as well as through the duration of the project. OCSE also provides resources for assessment, design, development, and evaluation of pilot programs. Child support agencies are encouraged to use all available technical assistance for maximum project effectiveness and impact. Additionally, program models and materials developed during waiver projects may be used to expand technical assistance resources and to replicate best practices among other child support agencies interested in implementing similar projects.

RELATED MATERIAL: Section 1115 of the Social Security Act; 45 CFR Part 304; IM-19-04

INQUIRIES: ACF/OCSE Regional Program Managers

Scott M. Lekan
Acting Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

Last Reviewed Date: