The Child Welfare Advisory Committee (CWAC) meeting was held on August 17th. Following are updates shared by VDSS representatives.
Family First Prevention Services Act(FFPSA) and Model Licensed Foster Home Standards
Title IV-E is a major federal funding source for foster care and adoption. Almost all money from this source is spent on foster care maintenance payments and adoption assistance, with a small amount spent on training and administration. The set up for this funding is a 50/50 match of federal and state funds – no local funds are used. There is a $210 million budget with $105 million coming from federal funding and $105 million coming from the state. Virginia is the only state where foster care money is not managed by the foster care program. We are the only state which has a Children’s Services Act(CSA) which establishes a single state pool of funds to support services for eligible youth and their families. There is a $370 million budget. This act supports foster care services which include prevention(services before children come into care). It also covers the special education population where most money is spent on private day placements. In 1993, more state money went into the CSA based on the counties’ ability to pay. In 2008, the funding went to a sliding scale, so there are now 393 match rates(3 for each county). The average match rate is 65% state funds to 35% local funds. Many counties have no prevention services because of money – localities can’t or won’t find the money to support prevention services. The Family First Act will take that choice away and make it a state decision instead of a local one.
FFPSA will have Title IV-E funded prevention services. They must be quality, evidence-based services; promote family-based placements(it provides more money for staff and to address issues earlier with prevention instead of only after an issue arises); and reduce congregate care. Title IV-E funded prevention services are new. Prevention services were never funded before. Title IV-E used to only kick in after the child was removed. This now covers not only the child, but also family services. There are uncapped partial matching dollars for up to 12 months per episode for families of children who, without these services, would likely enter foster care. There is no income test. Eligible services include: mental health services, substance abuse services, and in-home parent “skill-based” programs(parent training, home visiting, individual and family therapy). Eligible populations include: a child who is a candidate for foster care who can remain safely at home or in kinship and is identified as being at imminent risk of entering care, a child in care who is pregnant or parenting, parents or kin caregivers where services are needed to prevent child from entering into care. The state will need to define “imminent risk” as the feds will not define it. They want to allow for a broad definition.
Quality, evidence-based services and programs must be trauma-informed. They must be classified as “promising”, “supported”, or “well-supported” based on the evidence structure developed by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare. 50% of the expenditures reimbursed must meet the requirements for “well-supported” practices starting in fiscal year 2020. Health and Human Services will release practice criteria required for services and programs and a pre-approved list of services and programs between October 1 and December 31, 2018.
Maintenance of Effort(MOE) – New Federal funds for prevention services are intended to increase, not replace, state funding for prevention services. MOE will be frozen at 2014 spending on services for candidates for federal foster care(This is very difficult to determine.).
Title IV-E is emphasizing family-based placements. Lack of families is not a reason to place a child in a facility. New standards for non-family placements will go into effect. After a two week grace period, FFPSA limits IV-E maintenance payments to the following qualifying types(starts October 1, 2019):
- Family foster homes(includes relatives)
- Placements for pregnant or parenting youth
- Supervised independent living for youth 18+
- Qualified Residential Treatment Programs(with documentation of why the child’s needs cannot be met within a family setting)
There must be an assessment within 30 days to determine the appropriateness of the placement, there must be a 60-day court review and approval of placement, and a placement of more than 12 consecutive months requires the approval and signature of the commissioner.
- Specialized Sex Trafficking placement
Child and Family Services Review – Program Improvement Plan(PIP) Updates
From March through August 2018, this review has focused on problem identification through root cause analysis. One area of development is in family engagement. There is a shift from the idea that agencies alone know what’s best to one that encourages family participation. The goal is to ensure that youth and families are involved in all aspects of decision making. They are also looking at safety practices including making sure there is a timely response to all reports and ensuring safety services are provided in investigation/assessments and ongoing cases. The third area noted was in workforce needs. The goal is to improve consistency in practice by investing in a satisfied and well-trained workforce. The use of FlexDictate and Transcription Services seems to be reducing stress and improving documentation and job satisfaction for workers. Lastly, there is a focus on improving permanency practices with a goal of improving outcomes by ensuring adherence to timelines to permanency. From August to September 2018, this team will be getting input and feedback on their goals and strategies. The PIP draft #2 will be submitted to the Children’s Bureau and the team will identify local departments to be involved in PIP implementation and identify an implementation strategy. The plan is to implement in October 2018.