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Availability of Section 1115 Waivers to Fund NCP Work Activities


Published: July 23, 2019



DATE: July 23, 2019

TO: State and Tribal IV-D Agencies

SUBJECT: Availability of Section 1115 Waivers to Fund NCP Work Activities

Promoting economic mobility by increasing opportunities for employment remains a top priority of this administration. IM-18-02, issued February 15, 2018, describes and encourages the use of IV-D incentive funds for promoting noncustodial parent (NCP) work activities.

The Social Security Act (the Act) provides the authorization for the federal Child Support Enforcement Program under Title IV, Part D. In another part of the Act, section 1115 provides the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with the authority to fund demonstration projects for the child support program. This Information Memorandum conveys that HHS is prepared to review requests for section 1115 demonstration waivers that would allow states and tribes to fund employment programs for noncustodial parents, as set forth in the Act.

Under section 1115 of the Act, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has the authority to waive specific program and funding requirements, under certain circumstances, when agreeing to allow a state or tribal child support agency to conduct activities that would not otherwise be allowable. Within this authority, Congress also set limitations, which are outlined below:

  • Section 1115 demonstration waivers must promote the objectives of the child support program and be designed to improve the financial wellbeing of children or the operation of the program;
  • States and tribes must provide their share of funding for section 1115 demonstration waivers. They cannot redirect funds away from the child support program, as that would disadvantage the children whose cases are not part of the pilot activities; and
  • The waiver authority requires the requesting agency to invest new funds to pay their share of the cost of the pilot activities. Agencies may use foundation funding or other private sources as their share and must include waiver of the public source requirement in their request.

With OCSE approval of the waiver project, the agency share or private funds are eligible for federal financial participation, not to exceed $2 million. This is one key way that section 1115 demonstration waivers differ from IV-D incentive payment exemptions.

In its request for a waiver, the agency must specify the program requirements they are requesting to have waived or the services they wish to provide that are not funded under current federal regulations. The agency must also provide detailed implementation and evaluation plans for the pilot project.

OCSE can grant waivers to the state or tribe only, not to county or other government agencies, although the services or activities may be piloted in only one or a few areas.

An approved waiver requires fully executed Terms and Conditions outlining the specific activities, timeline, budget, reporting requirements, and project evaluation and monitoring procedures. Technical assistance is provided by OCSE throughout the request and approval process, as well as through the duration of the project.

ACF encourages states and tribes to promote and strengthen employment programs for noncustodial parents and, with this issuance, reaffirms its commitment to provide work opportunities for parents to support their children.

REFERENCES: Section 1115 of the Social Security Act; 45 CFR Part 304

INQUIRIES: ACF/OCSE Regional Program Managers

Scott M. Lekan
Office of Child Support Enforcement

Last Reviewed: July 29, 2020

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