March 9, 2011
This new report by First Focus calls on Congress to reinstitute and expand child welfare demonstration waivers. The report also outlines a number of recommended modifications to improve the waiver program and ensure that it meets the needs of children, families, and states.
In recent years, various proposals for comprehensive child welfare finance reform have circulated within the advocacy community, but none have garnered significant traction in Congress. However, now more than ever, states are in need of greater flexibility in the use of available child welfare funds in order to provide a diverse array of services to families in need. While reform is needed, it will likely take time for Congress to pass comprehensive child welfare financing legislation. Until that day comes, child welfare wavier demonstration projects can be a critical vehicle for promoting flexibility and fostering innovation in practice at the state level.
Child welfare waivers have demonstrated positive results by allowing states to develop and implement innovative approaches to the delivery of child welfare services. States have reported that with flexibility in the use of federal dollars, they can do much more to improve outcomes for kids, and implement critical programs to help children and families.
Child welfare demonstration waivers were first authorized for child welfare in 1994. Today, waivers in seven states remain active under short-term extensions, but legislative authority to approve new waivers expired on March 31, 2006.