Chapter 11: Child Welfare

Child Welfare Introduction and Overview

Introduction

Federal child welfare policy is largely concerned with preventing the abuse or neglect of children in their own homes and responding to the consequences of such abuse or neglect.  The primary goals of the policy are to ensure children’s safety and permanence, and to promote the well-being of children and their families.

Under the U.S. Constitution, states are believed to have the primary obligation to ensure the welfare of children and their families.  At the state level, the child welfare “system” consists of public child protection and child welfare workers, private child welfare and social service workers, state and local judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement personnel.  These representatives of various state and local entities assume interrelated roles while carrying out child welfare activities, including investigating reports of child abuse and neglect, providing services to strengthen and support biological, adoptive, and kinship families, removing children from their homes when that is necessary for their safety, supervising and administering payments for children placed in foster care, working to permit safe reunification of children with their parents or, when this is not possible, finding them a new permanent family through adoption, legal guardianship or placement with a fit and willing relative, and providing services to help youth who “age out” of foster care become successful adults.

Children and Families Served

Most children or families served by a public (state or local) child welfare agency first come into contact with that agency following an allegation of child abuse or neglect.  There are some 75 million children in the nation, and in FY2012 state or local child protective service workers investigated or otherwise provided a response to allegations of abuse or neglect involving some 3.2 million children.  An estimated 1.2 million of those children and their families receive additional services following this child protective services response and states identified 686,000 children as victims of child abuse or neglect under state law.  The large majority of children who received child welfare agency services after an abuse or neglect investigation or response were served in their own home rather than being removed to foster care.

Foster care is a temporary living arrangement for children who cannot safely remain in their own homes.  There were some 255,000 children who entered foster care in FY2013 and for most of them (58%) states reported that neglect was one of the circumstances that led to their removal from their homes and placement in foster care.  Other circumstances of removal for children entering care in FY2013 included (alone or in combination with additional factors) drug abuse by the child’s parent (28%), “caretaker inability to cope” (17%), physical abuse (14%), a child behavior problem (13%), inadequate housing (9%), parental incarceration (8%), alcohol abuse by child’s parent (6%), abandonment (5%), and sexual abuse (4%).

The number of children remaining in foster care on a given day of the year has been in decline.  A high of 567,000 children were reported in foster care on the last day of FY1999 and that number had declined to a low of 397,000 as of the last day of FY2012.  On the last day of FY2013, states reported 402,000 children in foster care.  The general decline in the number of children in foster care may be credited to successful efforts by states to reduce the length of time children spend in care, locate more permanent homes for children and, in more recent years, reduce the number of children entering care.

Major Child Welfare Programs in the Social Security Act and Their Funding

Federal involvement in state and local child welfare activities is tied to the financial assistance it provides to states to conduct, or supervise the conduct of, this work.  As a condition of receiving federal child welfare funds, states are required to abide by certain federal policies intended to further the overarching goals of safety, permanency and well-being for children and their families.

For FY2014, Congress appropriated $8.0 billion in funding dedicated to child welfare purposes.  The large majority of that funding was authorized under Title IV-B or Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, distributed to state child welfare agencies based on a formula or entitlement, and provided on a mandatory or direct funding basis.  States are typically required to provide their own (that is, non-federal) funds to receive these federal dollars, ranging from a minimum of 20% to 50% of total program costs.

Title IV-B is the primary source of dedicated federal support for child welfare-related services and these funds may be used to serve any child or family deemed to need these services and without regard to whether a child lives at home, in foster care, or was previously in foster care.  State, territorial, and tribal child welfare agencies receive the bulk of Title IV-B funding ($689 million in FY2014) under the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families programs; they used these funds primarily to provide child protection, family support, family preservation, family reunification, and adoption promotion and support services.  A smaller portion of the overall Title IV-B funding is distributed to the highest court in each state (to improve handling of child abuse and neglect proceedings), awarded competitively to support child welfare-related projects (including grants addressing substance abuse and supporting family connections), or is used for other child welfare-related research, training, and technical assistance.

Under the Title IV-E program, states are entitled to receive partial federal support for the cost of providing foster care to each child who meets the Title IV-E foster care eligibility criteria.  For eligible children, federal reimbursement is available for a part of the cost of providing foster care maintenance payments (i.e., room and board) as well as for certain required case planning and review activities, program-related training, and other program administration costs.  In FY2014, Congress provided budget authority of $4.3 billion to reimburse states for the federal share of Title IV-E foster care.

Most federal child welfare requirements are concerned with children who are in foster care.   States are generally required to provide the same case planning, review and other protections to children in foster care without regard to their Title IV-E eligibility status.  However, they may not use Title IV-E program funds (federal or required state share of Title IV-E) to provide those protections to children not eligible for Title IV-E.  The number of children eligible for Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments has declined even more sharply than the overall decline in all children in foster care.  Although this share varies considerably by state, on a national basis far less than half of all children in foster care are claimed by states as receiving Title IV-E foster care maintenance payments (i.e., 159,000 on an average monthly basis in FY2013).  Federal foster care eligibility criteria are multi-faceted, reflecting Congressional concern that children not be unnecessarily removed from their homes and that while in foster care they are in safe settings.  However, the decline in the share of children meeting the federal Title IV-E foster care eligibility criteria is often attributed to the program’s static income eligibility guidelines which are fixed at levels determined in each state as of July 1996.  The average state federal foster care income eligibility standard represented 42% of the federal poverty guidelines for FY2014 (based on a family of three).  The comparable average for FY1996 was 62%.  

Additional federal funding (also under Title IV-E) is available for children who leave foster care for adoption or legal guardianship (with kin).  For FY2014, Congress appropriated $2.6 billion in budget authority to reimburse states for the federal share of the cost of supporting children in new permanent homes.  The number of children on whose behalf federal adoption assistance was paid more than doubled between FY1999, when this assistance was paid on behalf of 195,200 children on an average monthly basis, and FY2013, when some 431,500 children received this assistance in an average month.  Federal Title IV-E support for kinship guardianship was initially authorized effective with FY2009, and the number of guardianship recipients has been small but is expected to grow considerably as more states take the option to provide this kind of Title IV-E support.  (In FY2013 about 17,200 children in 29 states received Title IV-E kinship guardianship assistance on an average monthly basis.)

Further, there is some dedicated funding (under the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, also in Title IV-E of the Social Security Act) related to meeting the needs of youth who are expected to “age out” of foster care without placement in a permanent family and for those who have already aged out.  Services and other supports provided are intended to help these youth make a successful transition to adulthood, and they are generally available for youth under the age of 21.  For FY2014 Congress provided $183 million for this purpose.  The number of youth aging out (also referred to as “emancipating”) grew from an estimated 19,000 during FY1999 to close to 31,000 during FY2009 when that number represented more than 11% of all children who left care.  However, it has since declined.  In FY2013 more than 23,000 aged out of foster care, representing just under 10% of all children leaving foster care in that year.

Federal child welfare programs authorized under Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act are administered by the Children’s Bureau, which is within the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  In Congress, those programs are under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance.

CAPTA and Other Child Welfare Programs 

A comparatively small amount of dedicated federal child welfare funding ($94 million in FY2014) is provided under several grants authorized in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).  Under CAPTA, which was established in 1974, states are required to have a system in place to receive and respond to allegations of abuse and neglect, among other requirements.  CAPTA is also administered by the Children’s Bureau, and in Congress is under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).

Other federal child welfare programs authorized outside of the Social Security Act include primarily competitive grants to states, local governments, and nongovernmental agencies to do the following:

  1. Improve opportunities and remove barriers to adoption for children for whom being reunited with their parents is not possible or appropriate and who because of age, race/ethnicity, emotional or mental health concerns, or other issues (as specified by a state) might be less likely to be adopted;
  2. Fund training and technical assistance for programs that provide court-appointed special advocates for children in abuse or neglect proceedings;
  3. Fund children’s advocacy centers and other support for multidisciplinary responses to child abuse and neglect;
  4. Provide services for abandoned infants and children with AIDS or other serious health issues; and
  5. Support a range of federally administered research and demonstration projects related to preventing abuse and neglect and improving services to children and their families.

Most of the programs authorized outside the Social Security Act have annual funding of less than $30 million each and are administered by the Children’s Bureau; a few are administered by the Office of Justice Programs within the Department of Justice.  In the House the jurisdiction of these programs has traditionally been spread over the Education and the Workforce and Judiciary Committees and in the Senate over the HELP and Judiciary Committees.

Separately, funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program (Title V, Section 511 of the Social Security Act; $371 million in FY2014) is distributed to all states and tribes (via formula and competitive grants) to support home visiting services that promote maternal, infant and child health; improve school readiness and achievement; prevent child abuse or neglect and injuries; improve family economic self-sufficiency; reduce crime or domestic violence; and improve coordination and referrals for community resources and supports.  Home visiting, which supports the primary child welfare goals of safety and well-being, is a service frequently provided by child welfare agencies (using Title IV-B or other federal funding).  The MIECHV program, first authorized to receive funding in FY2010, is administered primarily by state public health or social service agencies.

Requirements and Oversight

Most federal child welfare requirements are included in Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.  To receive federal support through the federal child welfare programs authorized under those parts of the law, states must provide no less than 20% of total program costs, and may be required to provide up to 50% of total program costs (depending on the program and kind of activity).  As a condition of receiving these federal funds, states must also provide certain protections to each child in foster care (and without regard to whether or not the child meets federal Title IV-E eligibility criteria).  Further, states must meet additional federal requirements related to planning for and administering services to children and families. State compliance with these requirements is subject to various federal audits and conformity reviews, of which the most comprehensive is the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR).  

State Spending on Child Welfare Purposes

States spend substantial funds on child welfare purposes and, on a national basis, generally exceed the amount needed to access full federal child welfare funding.  For example, in FY2014 federal dedicated child welfare funding was about $8.0 billion, and given statutory participation (sometimes called “matching”) rates, states would be expected to spend about $3.9 billion in state and local funds to fully draw down that funding.  This suggests total federal, state, and local spending authorized under federal child welfare programs of just less than $12 billion.  However, according to a survey of state child welfare agency spending for state fiscal year 2012 (the most recent available), those public agencies spent $28.2 billion on child welfare activities in that year with a little more than half of this spending ($15.5 billion or 55%) coming from state or local funds.  The remainder ($12.7 billion) drew on federal funds, including the funding streams discussed above that are dedicated to child welfare purposes (primarily Title IV-E and Title IV-B), as well as additional federal funding that states may choose to direct to child welfare purposes.  Principally this “non-dedicated” funding is expended by states’ child welfare agencies out of federal funds provided under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), and Medicaid.[1]

Chapter Overview

This chapter focuses on programs that authorize federal child welfare funding to all states, and that must be used for child welfare purposes and are authorized under Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.  It includes links to several Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports about those programs.  A separate section includes Additional Tables and Figures related to child welfare.  Other parts of this chapter include a Legislative History and Links to Additional Resources.

This page was prepared on October 12, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.


[1]Kerry DeVooght, Megan Fletcher, and Hope Cooper, Federal, State, and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect in SFY2012, Child Trends, Casey Family Programs, and Annie E. Casey Foundation (September 2014). 

 

Child Welfare Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

The House Ways and Means Committee is making available selected reports by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for inclusion in its 2014 Green Book website.  CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to Committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation.

Major Child Welfare Programs: Funding, Eligibility and State Plan Requirements

R43458: Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding

R41860: Child Welfare: Funding for Child and Family Services Authorized under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act

R42792: Child Welfare: A Detailed Overview of Program Eligibility and Funding for Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Kinship Guardianship Assistance under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act  (PENDING)

R42794: Child Welfare: State Plan Requirements under the Title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program

RL34499: Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs

R43752: Child Welfare: Profiles of Current and Former Older Foster Youth Based on the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD)

Health Care of Children in Foster Care

R42378: Child Welfare: Health Care Needs of Children in Foster Care and Related Federal Issues

Selected Acts Amending Child Welfare Programs (prior Acts included below and available in earlier Green Book versions)

R43757: Child Welfare and Child Support: The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183)

R42027, Child Welfare: The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34)

RL34704, Child Welfare: The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-351)

RL33354, Child Welfare: Enactment of the Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-288)

RL33155, Child Welfare: Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Provisions in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-171)

RL30759, Child Welfare: Implementation of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (P.L. 105-89)

 

This page was prepared on November 20, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

Child Welfare Tables and Figures in CRS Reports

The following tables and figures related to Child Welfare can be found in the CRS reports section of this Green Book chapter.

R43458: Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding

Table 1. Final Funding for Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services Program

Table 2. Final Funding for Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program

Table 3. Final Discretionary and Mandatory PSSF Funding, by Program/Activity    

Table 4. Final Funding for Family Connection Grants

Table 5. Final Funding for Child Welfare Research, Training, or Demonstration Projects

Table 6. Budget Authority Provided Under the Title IV-E Program

Table 7. Final Funding for Tribal Title IV-E Plan Development and Technical Assistance (TA)

Table 8. Final Funding for the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP)

Table 9. Final Funding for Adoption Incentive Payments

Table 10. Final Funding for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)  

Table 11. Final Funding for Children’s Justice Act Grants

Table 12. Final Funding for Programs Under the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA)

Table 13. Final Funding for Adoption Opportunities

Table 14. Final Funding for Abandoned Infants Assistance

Table A-1. Funding Authority and Sequestration Status of Child Welfare Programs

R41860: Child Welfare: Funding for Child and Family Services Authorized Under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act

Table 1. Programs and Activities Authorized Under Title IV-B of the Social Security Act

Table 2. Description of Purposes and Activities by Selected Service Category

Table A-1. Funding for the CWS and PSSF Programs, FY1990-FY2014

Table B-1. Description of Selected Categories of Services Used for Reporting Expenditures under Title IV-B

Table C-1. Title IV-B Funding by State, FY2014 Table C-2 Title IV-B Funding by State, FY2013

Table D-1. PSSF Funding by Kind of Authority and by Activity, FY1994-FY2014

Table D-2. PSSF Annual Funding Authorization and Distribution, FY2012-FY2016

Table E-1. Funding Authority and Appropriations for the Court Improvement Program, FY1995-FY2014

Table E-2. Funding Awarded by CIP Purpose and State, FY2014

Table E-3. Funding Awarded by CIP Purpose and State, FY2013

Table F-1.  Performance Indicators for Regional Partnership Grants

Table G-1. State Monthly Casework Visits Percentage and Visits in Home of Child Percentage, FY2012 and FY2013

Figure 1. States Planned Use of Federal Title IV-B Funding for FY2013, by Purpose

Figure 2. Funding for the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Child Welfare Services (CWS) and Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Programs, FY1990-FY1994

Figure 3. Children Brought to the Attention of the Child Welfare Agency

Figure 4. Planned Use of FY2013 Federal CWS Funds by Kind of Service or Activity

Figure 5. Trend in Funding for the CWS Program, Nominal and Constant Dollars, FY1990-FY2014

Figure 6. Trend in Funding for the PSSF Program, Nominal and Constant Dollars, FY1994-FY2014

Figure 7. Amount of PSSF Funding by Activity, Selected Fiscal Years

Figure 8. Planned Use of FY2013 Federal PSSF Funds for Child and Family Services by Kind of Service or Activity

R42794: Child Welfare: State Plan Requirements under the Title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program

Figure 1. Total Federal and State Title IV-E Spending, FY2013

Figure 2. Child Protections Offered as Part of the Case Review System

RL34499: Youth Transitioning from Foster Care: Background and Federal Programs

Table A-1. Comparison of Outcome Domains Between Young Adults in the Midwest Study and Young Adults in the Add Health Study

Table B-1. FY2011 and FY2012 CFCIP General and ETV Allotments by State

R43752: Child Welfare: Profiles of Current and Former Older Foster Youth Based on the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD)

Figure 1. Share of Current and Former Foster Youth Who Received an Independent Living Service(s) by Type of Service Received, FY2011-FY2013

Figure 2. Selected Outcomes of Current and Former Foster Youth at Age 19, FY2013

Table 1. Characteristics of Current and Former Foster Youth Who Received an Independent Living Service and Service(s) Received

Table 2. Demographics of Current and Former Foster Youth at Age 19 and Their Outcomes by Foster Care Status and Receipt of Independent Living Services, FY2013

R42378: Child Welfare:  Health Care Needs of Children in Foster Care and Related Federal Issues

Table A-1. Comparisons of Select Outcomes Between Young Adults in the Midwest Study and Young Adults in the Add Health Study

Table A-2. Presence of Certain Health and Mental Health Conditions Among All Children, All Adopted Children, and Children Adopted from Foster Care

Table B-1. Medicaid Services Spending for “Foster Care” Children by Types of Service, Selected Fiscal Years

Table C-1. Major Mandatory and Optional Medicaid Pathways for Current and Former Foster Children and Youth

Figure 1. Medicaid Spending for “Foster Care” Children by Selected Categories and Fiscal Years

This page was prepared on October 12, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

Additional Tables and Figures Related to Child Welfare

The Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Caseload

Table 11-1. Title IV-E Caseload by Kind of Assistance, Number and Rate, FY1984-FY2013

HHS Projections of Title IV-E Caseload and Outlays

Table 11-2. Estimated Caseload and Federal Outlays under the Title IV-E Program, FY2014-FY2019

Risk and Other Factors for Children in Families Investigated for Abuse and Neglect

Table 11-3. Risk and Other Factors Associated with Families Investigated for Child Abuse and Neglect, by Where Children Live

Children Entering, Served, Exiting, or In Foster Care

Table 11-4. Number of Children Entering, Served, Exiting, or In Foster Care, National Estimates, FY1982- FY2013

Children Entering Foster Care

Table 11-5. Number of Children Entering Foster Care by Age, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-5A. Rate of Children Entering Foster Care by Age, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-5B. Share of Children Entering Foster Care by Age, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-6. Number of Children Entering Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-6A. Rate of Children Entering Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-6B. Share of Children Entering Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-7. Number of Children Entering Foster Care by Reported Circumstance(s) of Removal, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-7A. Share of Children Entering Foster Care by Reported Circumstance(s) of Removal, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-8. Children Entering Foster Care by Prior Removal Status, FY2004-FY2013

Children in Foster Care

Table 11-9. Number of Children in Foster Care by Age, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-9A. Rate of Children in Foster Care by Age, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-9B. Share of Children in Foster Care by Age, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-10. Number of Children in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity,FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-10A. Rate of Children in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-10B. Share of Children in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-11. Children in Foster Care by Case Plan Goal, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-12. Number of Months in Foster Care, by Race/Ethnicity, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-13. Number of Children in Foster Care by Current Placement Setting, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-13A. Share of Children in Foster Care by Current Placement Setting, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-14. Number of Children in Foster Care by Number of Placement Settings and Length of Stay in Care, Selected Fiscal Years

Table 11-14A. Share of Children in Foster Care by Number of Placement Settings and Length of Stay in Care, Selected Fiscal Years

Children Waiting to Be Adopted

Table 11-15. Number of Children Waiting to Be Adopted and Their Median and Average Age, as of the Last Day of the Fiscal Year, FY2001-FY2013

Table 11-16. Number of Children Waiting for Adoption, by Race/Ethnicity, as of the Last Day of the Fiscal Year, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-16A. Share of Children Waiting for Adoption, by Race/Ethnicity, as of the Last Day of the Fiscal Year, FY2004-FY2013

Children Leaving Foster Care

Table 11-17. Number of Children Exiting Foster Care During FY2001-FY2013, by Reason for Exit

Table 11-17A. Share of Children Exiting Foster Care During FY2001-FY2013, by Reason for Exit

Table 11-18. Number of Children Exiting Foster Care by Age and Reason for Exit, FY2013

Table 11-18A. Share of Children Exiting Foster Care by Age and Reason for Exit, FY2013

Table 11-19. Number of Exits from Foster Care by Reason and Race/Ethnicity, FY2013

Table 11-19A. Share of Exits from Foster Care by Reason and Race/Ethnicity, FY2013

Children Adopted with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement

Table 11-20. Adoptions with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY1998-FY2013

Table 11-21. Average and Median Length of Time to Finalized Adoption, In Months, FY2000-FY2013

Table 11-22. Children Adopted With Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement By Race/Ethnicity, FY2004-FY2013

Table 11-23. Prior Relationship of Adoptive Parents to Child Adopted with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY2006-FY2013

Table 11-24. Structure of Family Adopting Children with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY2004-FY2013

Additional Figures

Figure 11- 1. What Does A Title IV-E Foster Care Dollar Buy?

Figure 11- 2. What Does A Title IV-E Permanency Dollar Buy?

Figure 11-3. Foster Care Entry Rates by Age, Selected Fiscal Years

Figure 11-4. Foster Care Entry Rates by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013

Figure 11-5. Median Length of Stay in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, Selected Fiscal Years

Figure 11-6. Children in Care by Number of Placement Settings and Length of Stay in Care, as of the Last Day of FY2013

Figure 11-7. Current Placement Setting by Age of Child in Foster Care, FY2013

Figure 11-8. Number and Rate of Adoptions with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY1995-FY2013

This page was prepared on October 12, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

AttachmentSize
  • Figure 11- 1. What Does A Title IV-E Foster Care Dollar Buy? »
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  • Figure 11- 2. What Does A Title IV-E Permanency Dollar Buy? »
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  • Figure 11-3. Foster Care Entry Rates by Age, Selected Fiscal Years »
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  • Figure 11-4. Foster Care Entry Rates by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Figure 11-5. Median Length of Stay in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, Selected Fiscal Years »
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  • Figure 11-6. Children in Care by Number of Placement Settings and Length of Stay in Care, as of the Last Day of FY2013 »
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  • Figure 11-7. Current Placement Setting by Age of Child in Foster Care, FY2013 »
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  • Figure 11-8. Number and Rate of Adoptions with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY1995-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-1. Title IV-E Caseload by Kind of Assistance, Number and Rate, FY1984-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-2. Estimated Caseload and Federal Outlays under the Title IV-E Program, FY2014-FY2019 »
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  • Table 11-3. Risk and Other Factors Associated with Families Investigated for Child Abuse and Neglect, by Where Children Live »
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  • Table 11-4. Number of Children Entering, Served, Exiting, or In Foster Care, National Estimates, FY1982- FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-5. Number of Children Entering Foster Care by Age, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-5A. Rate of Children Entering Foster Care by Age, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-5B. Share of Children Entering Foster Care by Age, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-6. Number of Children Entering Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-6A. Rate of Children Entering Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-6B. Share of Children Entering Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-7. Number of Children Entering Foster Care by Reported Circumstance(s) of Removal, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-7A. Share of Children Entering Foster Care by Reported Circumstance(s) of Removal, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-8. Children Entering Foster Care by Prior Removal Status, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-9. Number of Children in Foster Care by Age, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-9A. Rate of Children in Foster Care by Age, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-9B. Share of Children in Foster Care by Age, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-10. Number of Children in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity,FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-10A. Rate of Children in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-10B. Share of Children in Foster Care by Race/Ethnicity, FY2001-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-11. Children in Foster Care by Case Plan Goal, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-12. Number of Months in Foster Care, by Race/Ethnicity, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-13. Number of Children in Foster Care by Current Placement Setting, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-13A. Share of Children in Foster Care by Current Placement Setting, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-14. Number of Children in Foster Care by Number of Placement Settings and Length of Stay in Care, Selected Fiscal Years »
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  • Table 11-14A. Share of Children in Foster Care by Number of Placement Settings and Length of Stay in Care, Selected Fiscal Years »
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  • Table 11-15. Number of Children Waiting to Be Adopted and Their Median and Average Age, as of the Last Day of the Fiscal Year, F »
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  • Table 11-16. Number of Children Waiting for Adoption, by Race/Ethnicity, as of the Last Day of the Fiscal Year, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-16A. Share of Children Waiting for Adoption, by Race/Ethnicity, as of the Last Day of the Fiscal Year, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-17. Number of Children Exiting Foster Care During FY2001-FY2013, by Reason for Exit »
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  • Table 11-17A. Share of Children Exiting Foster Care During FY2001-FY2013, by Reason for Exit »
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  • Table 11-18. Number of Children Exiting Foster Care by Age and Reason for Exit, FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-18A. Share of Children Exiting Foster Care by Age and Reason for Exit, FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-19. Number of Exits from Foster Care by Reason and Race/Ethnicity, FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-19A. Share of Exits from Foster Care by Reason and Race/Ethnicity, FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-20. Adoptions with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY1998-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-21. Average and Median Length of Time to Finalized Adoption, In Months, FY2000-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-22. Children Adopted With Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement By Race/Ethnicity, FY2004-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-23. Prior Relationship of Adoptive Parents to Child Adopted with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY2006-FY2013 »
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  • Table 11-24. Structure of Family Adopting Children with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement, FY2004-FY2013 »
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    Child Welfare Legislative History

    The information below provides the legislative history of child welfare programs since the end of the first session of the 112th Congress and through September 30, 2014, during the second session of the 113th Congress.  For prior legislative history, refer to the 2012 Green Book.  Note that this prior legislative history is primarily, but not exclusively, concerned with the development of programs currently authorized under Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.  While it is somewhat detailed, it is not comprehensive.  

    112th Congress

    The Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-275, enacted January 2013) called for establishment of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.  The Commission is charged with studying services used to reduce child abuse and neglect fatalities and developing recommendations for a national comprehensive strategy to reduce such fatalities, including recommendations for appropriate legislative and administrative actions.

    113th Congress

    The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (P.L. 113-183, enacted September 2014) amends the federal (Title IV-E) foster care program to require state child welfare agencies to develop and implement procedures for identifying, documenting in agency records, and determining appropriate services for certain children or youth who are victims of sex trafficking or at risk of victimization.  State child welfare agencies must also report to law enforcement and HHS about such victims.  HHS must establish a national advisory committee on child sex trafficking that, among other responsibilities, must develop policies on improving the nation’s response to domestic sex trafficking. P.L. 113-183 also includes provisions to direct child welfare agencies to develop protocols on locating children missing from care.

    P.L. 113-183 also seeks to ensure children in foster care have the opportunity to participate in activities that are appropriate to their age and stage of development.  It requires changes in state foster home licensing law to enable foster caregivers to apply a “reasonable and prudent parenting” standard when determining whether a child in foster care may participate in activities and directs state child welfare agencies to provide training to caregivers on using this standard.   Other provisions in the law seek to ensure permanent adult connections for older children and better aid for their transition to successful adulthood.  Under the new law, states are not permitted to assign a permanency plan of “another planned permanent living arrangement” (APPLA) to any child under the age of 16, and must take additional steps to support permanency for children age 16 or older who are assigned that permanency plan.  Further, children in foster care who are age 14 or older must be consulted in the development of, and any revisions to, their case and permanency plans.  They must also be made aware of their rights while in care, including the right to receive critical documents (e.g., birth certificate, Social Security card) when they “age out” of care.

    P.L. 113-183 extended funding authority for Adoption Incentive Payments for three years (FY2014-FY2016), renamed them (as of October 1, 2014) as the Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentive Payments, revised the incentive structure to allow states to earn incentive payments for both adoptions and exits from foster care to legal guardianship, and placed additional focus on finding permanent homes for older children.  The new incentive structure, which is being phased in, gauges state performance based on changes in the rate (or percentage) of adoptions and legal guardianships a state achieved (rather than number).  Separately, P.L. 113-183 requires 30% of any state savings (resulting from broadening federal eligibility for Title IV-E adoption assistance) to be used for family strengthening services, including post-adoption services.  It also includes provisions to ensure continued federal assistance under the Title IV-E program for eligible children who, following the death or incapacitation of their legal guardian, are placed with previously named successor guardians.  Additionally, the law appropriated $15 million to continue Family Connection Grants for one year.

    This page was prepared on October 27, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.

    Child Welfare Links to Additional Resources

    Data on Number, Characteristics, and Certain Outcomes of Children and Families Who Come into Contact with Child Welfare

    Child Maltreatment – An annual report that includes national and state-by-state information on number of children found to be victims of child abuse or neglect, number of child abuse or neglect fatalities, and other related data.

    Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) Reports – An annual report that includes national data concerning children entering or exiting foster care in a given fiscal year, those who remain in foster care on the last day of the fiscal year, those who were waiting to be adopted on the last day of the fiscal year, and those who were adopted during the fiscal year. For state level data on adoptions with public child welfare agency, scroll down to annual links provided under the heading “State Specific Adoption Statistics.”

    Number of Children Entering or Exiting Foster Care During the Fiscal Year and Number in Care on the Last Day of the Fiscal Year – A table showing data by state for FY2004-FY2013.

    Number of Children Adopted with Public Child Welfare Agency Involvement by State, FY2004-FY2013

    Child Welfare Outcomes Database – An interactive site that allows users to select which state or states they would like to see information about and for what years.  The website was launched in January 2011 and is to be annually updated.  The site includes all the data that is published in the congressionally mandated Child Welfare Outcomes report (Section 479A of the Social Security Act), as well as data showing state performance on certain standards used to assess states as part of the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR).  The website continues to be developed and readers may want to check back periodically to learn about any new resources posted.

    National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) – Reports and other information based on the congressionally mandated national random sample study of child welfare (Section 429 of the Social Security Act).  Includes links to research briefs, reports, and other information based on nationally representative samples of children who come into contact with child welfare agencies and their families. 

    National Survey of Adoptive Parents Reports based on survey of adoptive parents, including special study of parents who adopted children out of foster care. 

    Information on Federal Policies and State Laws and Policies

    Child Welfare Policy Manual – The Children’s Bureau has issued both formal federal regulation as well as less formal “program instructions” to interpret and implement federal child welfare law.  The online Child Welfare Policy Manual draws on these sources (and current law) to offer guidance on federal child welfare policy.  Information is organized, topically, by program and is provided in a question and answer format. 

    State Statute Series – Available via the Children’s Bureau supported information clearinghouse (known as the Child Welfare Information Gateway), the State Statute Series provides a brief overall summary of state statutes regarding selected child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption issues.  It also shows the relevant excerpt of state law for each issue.

    State Child Welfare Policy Database – This website was developed and is managed by the social policy research group, Child Trends, with funding from Casey Family Programs.  It includes state-level information on laws, policies, and practices related to kinship care, child welfare financing, older youth in care, family foster care reimbursement rates, programs to prevent child maltreatment, differential response, domestic violence, definitions of child abuse and neglect, and mandatory reporting of child abuse or neglect.

    Child Welfare Demonstration Projects (“waivers”)

    Information about past, currently operating, and planned child welfare demonstration projects, including federal policies related to these projects is available online

    Accountability

    States are held accountable to federal child welfare policy through a variety of mechanisms and reviews. Links to information about two reviews are provided below.

    Child and Family Services Review – The Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) is the most comprehensive federal effort to determine whether states are in “substantial conformity” with state plan requirements made under Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.  The review is periodically conducted and focuses on outcomes achieved by the state for the children and families it services as well as the systems in place to achieve those outcomes.  Each review includes a statewide assessment and an onsite review.  State “substantial conformity” is determined using standardized data measures, case record reviews, and stakeholder interviews. States found not in “substantial conformity” with federal child welfare policy face a fiscal penalty unless they are able to successfully implement a Program Improvement Plan (PIP). General information about the CFSR, including how the review is conducted is available online.

    A report on findings of the most recent round of reviews (FY2007-FY2010) is available online.

    Copies of individual state assessments and state final reports are available online

    Title IV-E Eligibility Review – A Title IV-E Eligibility Review is periodically conducted in each state to ensure the state accurately applies federal eligibility rules related to determining federal eligibility for Title IV-E foster care assistance.  Information about the review, including state final reports is available online.

    Federally Supported Clearinghouses or Resource Centers

    Child Welfare Information Gateway – Clearinghouse of information on broad range of child welfare topics.

    AdoptUSKids – Among other things, includes a photo listing of children available for adoption as well as information and resources, nationally and by state, for families seeking to adopt.

    Federal Laws

    Social Security Act

    The Social Security Administration maintains an online compilation of the Social Security Act. Child welfare programs and activities authorized in the Social Security Act are in Title IV-B, Title IV-E and sections of Title XI.

    Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Adoption Opportunities, and Abandoned Infants Assistance

    The Children’s Bureau maintains a compilation of these acts on its website. The document at this link incorporates all amendments made to them through their most current reauthorization, P.L. 111-320, enacted in December 2010. 

    This page was prepared on November 18, 2014 for the 2014 version of the House Ways and Means Committee Green Book.