PIC ID: 8221; Agency Sponsor: ACF-ACYF, Administration on Children, Youth and Families; Federal Contact: Collins, Gail E., 202-205-8087; Performer: James Bell Associates, Inc., Arlington, VA
Performance Improvement 2006. Synthesis of Findings: Title IV-E Flexible Funding Child Welfare Waiver Demonstrations
Since 1996, four states - Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon - have implemented flexible funding child welfare waiver demonstration projects that allow the states and their counties or other localities to use funds normally reserved for foster care for a wide variety of child welfare purposes. The projects respond to a widely held concern that while the Federal government reimburses expenses for foster care on an open-ended entitlement basis, funds for services to prevent placement or return children home are more limited and capped. Each state adopted a different approach for its flexible funding demonstration, but all sought to reduce entries into foster care placement, decrease lengths of stay for children coming into care, and improve the permanency and well-being of children, while assuring child safety. An independent evaluator evaluated each of the state flexible funding projects. This report reviews and synthesizes process and outcome findings from each of those evaluations and presents crosscutting lessons learned. Among the key findings presented is that in three of the four states (Indiana, North Carolina, and Oregon), the flexible funding demonstration was associated with a significantly reduced probability of out-of-home placement. Indiana also found a positive association between the availability of flexible funding and reduced lengths of stay in foster care, as well as increased rates of reunification and better educational outcomes for children.