A bill awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature would give new federal support to state programs that help keep children out of foster care, according to the bill’s sponsors. Senate Bill 1542 would reform rules that now prohibit states from using federal foster care funding on programs that help keep children at home with their families. States that reduce the number of case- loads now lose federal dollars for foster care, called Title 4-E funds. Under the bill, those states could tap that stream of money for programs that help keep children at home or reduce the duration of their stay in foster care.
States that want to use the new option for spending the federal dollars have to apply for a “flexible funding waiver” from the federal government and may do so beginning in 2012. The application includes a plan and goals for reducing caseloads. Between 2012 and 2014, 30 states will be awarded the waiver, said Dan Ashby, chief of federal funding at the Children’s Administration. The waivers last for five years, he said. Link to the bill