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Highlights

Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, comprised of two subparts, is the primary source of federal funding for services to help families address problems that lead to child abuse and neglect and to prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their families; however, a number of challenges exist that impair states' ability to deliver and track these services. This testimony is based on findings from three reports issued in 2003 and addresses the following: (1) states' use of Title IV-B funds in providing a wide array of services to prevent the occurrence of abuse, neglect, and unnecessary foster care placements, as well as in providing other child welfare services; (2) factors that hinder states' ability to protect children from abuse and neglect; and (3) the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) role in helping states to overcome these challenges. Findings are based on multiple methodologies, including a survey to child welfare directors on states' use of Title IV-B funds; an analysis of nearly 600 exit interview documents completed by staff who severed their employment from 17 state, 40 county, and 19 private child welfare agencies; and a survey of all 50 states and the District of Columbia regarding their experiences in developing and using information systems and their ability to report data to HHS. In each case, GAO also conducted multiple site visits to selected states and interviewed child welfare experts and HHS headquarters and regional officials.

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