Foster Care:

State Agencies Other Than Child Welfare Can Access Title IV-E Funds

HRD-93-6: Published: Feb 9, 1993. Publicly Released: Feb 9, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined: (1) whether federal statutes permit federal reimbursement for foster care placements by state juvenile justice and mental health agencies; (2) which states are claiming reimbursement for juvenile justice and mental health agency placements and the amounts claimed during 1991; and (3) what barriers states encounter in trying to claim reimbursement for these placements.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued several policy statements clarifying eligibility requirements for reimbursement for foster care placements; (2) HHS has reimbursed states for placements made by juvenile justice agencies since 1984; (3) of the states that responded to a 1991 survey, 21 claimed reimbursement for placements by juvenile justice agencies and 13 claimed reimbursement for placements by mental health agencies; (4) most states reported that they do not separately track reimbursement claims for foster care placements by juvenile justice or mental health agencies; (5) 19 states reported barriers to claiming reimbursement; (6) barriers to claiming reimbursement for juvenile justice placements included problems in obtaining court orders that removal from the home was in the child's best interest, insufficient staff or inadequate procedures for determining if the foster home was eligible to receive payments, concerns that juvenile justice claims would not pass HHS reviews, insufficient state-licensed foster care facilities, and problems meeting the requirement for court hearings within 18 months of removal; (7) juvenile justice and state agencies administering the program had problems negotiating agreements to ensure that eligibility requirements were met; and (8) barriers to claiming reimbursement for mental health placements included state requirements that did not permit claims for voluntary placements, insufficient staff or inadequate procedures for determining eligibility for Aid to Families With Dependent Children, the lack of state-licensed foster care facilities, and problems obtaining properly worded court orders.

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