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Administration for Children and Families
|U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND
Administration for Children, Youth and Families
|1. Log No: ACYF-CB-PI-99-02||2. Issuance Date: February 23, 1999|
|3. Originating Office: Children's Bureau|
|4. Key Words: State Court Assessment and Implementation of Reforms|
TO: Highest State Courts of Appeal
SUBJECT: The Court Improvement Program; Funding For State Courts to Assess and Improve Handling of Proceedings Relating to Foster Care and Adoption; Instructions for Applying for Fiscal Years (FY) 1999, 2000, and 2001 Funds
LEGAL AND RELATED REFERENCES: Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act; Subchapter C, Part I of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (OBRA) (P.L. 103-66); Sec. 305 of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (P.L. 105-89); 45 CFR Parts 16, 30, 74, 76, 80, 91, 92, 93, 1355, 1356, and 1357; OMB Circular A-133; and ACYF-PI-94-12
PURPOSE: The purposes of this Program Instruction are to announce the reauthorization of the Court Improvement Program and to describe the application process for fiscal years 1999-2001 funds.
The State Court Improvement Program (CIP) was created as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993 which, among other things, provided new Federal funds to State child welfare agencies and tribes for preventive services (family support) and services to families at risk or in crisis (family preservation). In addition to authorizing funds for expanding services, the legislation offered States and tribes an opportunity to assess and make changes in the delivery of child welfare services, broadly defined. The purpose of these changes is to enhance the well-being of vulnerable children and their families.
Congress recognized that this focus on family support and family preservation must be coupled with an enhancement of the State court process in order to improve the handling of proceedings relating to foster care and adoption. The legislation authorized $5 million in fiscal year 1995 and $10 million in fiscal years 1996, 1997, and 1998 for grants to State court systems for use in assessing how these systems currently function and to provide funds for making changes. With the first year's Federal funds, States were required to conduct assessments of State foster care and adoption laws and judicial processes, and to develop a plan for system improvement. During the remaining years, the Federal funds were to be used to implement the recommendations included in the State plan.
In June 1994 the Children's Bureau issued a Program Instruction (ACYF-PI-94-12) introducing the new CIP and specifying application and approval procedures and programmatic and fiscal reporting requirements. To date, 49 States have met the program requirements and received CIP funding.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (Pub. L. 105-89) reauthorized the Court Improvement Program, funded at $10 million, for each of fiscal years 1999, 2000, and 2001. There were no substantive changes made to the CIP in the reauthorization.
The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), passed by the Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, represents an important landmark in Federal child welfare law. Its passage affords an unprecedented opportunity to build on the reforms of the child welfare system that have begun in recent years, in order to make the system more responsive to the multiple, and often complex, needs of children and families. The law is designed to achieve more timely decisions and stronger safety guarantees for abused and neglected children, and includes a number of provisions that affect courts. The ASFA provisions and other recent statutory amendments will be implemented by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) through the normal regulatory process. Court Improvement Programs should be mindful of the ASFA requirements as they implement their recommendations for system reforms.
INSTRUCTION: Program Instruction ACYF-PI-94-12 (see Attachment A) was issued June 27, 1994 to:
Introduce the new State Court Improvement Program and describe its background and purpose (sections A-C);
Outline the programmatic and fiscal provisions and reporting requirements of the program (sections D-G);
Specify the application submittal, review and approval procedures for the program (sections H-J); and
Identify technical resources for use by State courts during the course of the program (section K.).
Program Instruction ACYF-PI-94-12 remains in effect. There are no changes in the programmatic and fiscal provisions and the reporting requirements of the program as outlined in sections D-G, with the exception of the statement in Section E.5 (Matching Requirement) that third party non-Federal share may not be in-kind contributions. Since Program Instruction ACYF-PI-94-12 was issued, the regulation has been amended to include third party non-Federal share of in-kind contributions of services, equipment, or property (See discussion of the matching requirement on Page 4 below under Availability and Allocation of Funds).
The application submittal, review and approval procedures specified in sections H-J of Program Instruction ACYF-PI-94-12 are still applicable for those States that have not yet established their eligibility for the CIP. The discussion of technical resources for use by State courts in section K remains in effect (Portions of the 1994 attachment are updated in Attachment F).
AVAILABILITY AND ALLOCATION OF FUNDS: Each State receiving CIP funds will be allocated $85,000 for each of FYs 1999-2001. In addition to this base amount, the remainder of the amount appropriated for all States ($10 million each year) will be divided according to each State's proportionate share of children under age 21. Attachment B estimates the allocations for fiscal years 1999 through 2001 for each State court, assuming that all States become eligible. If any State courts do not apply for their share of these funds, the unclaimed amount will be reallocated each year to all other State courts with approved applications.
Non-Federal share (or match), at the rate of 25 percent of the total budget, is required for all funded States for each of the three years, whether they are in the assessment or implementation stage. Funds that are eligible to be used as non-Federal share must meet the regulatory requirements of 45 CFR Part 92, which states the rules for cost sharing or matching funds. State courts should consult the regulations directly for a full and accurate understanding of the matching requirements.
State courts will have two years from the date of award to expend each fiscal year's funds. The ACF cannot grant a no-cost extension for any State with unexpended funds at the end of a program expenditure period, and any unexpended funds must be returned to the Treasury. States should take this into account when submitting annual requests for funding.
REQUIREMENTS FOR FUNDING:
States Applying for Initial Funding
States applying for initial Court Improvement Program funding should follow the application requirements and submittal directions in sections H and I of Program Instruction ACYF-PI-94-12. The ACF will follow the review and approval procedures specified in section J of that Program Instruction. The closing date for receipt of applications for FY 1999 funds is May 1, 1999. The application deadline is January 1, 2000 for FY 2000 funds and January 1, 2001 for FY 2001 funds.
All Other States
FY 1999 Funds: To receive FY 1999 funds, States currently receiving CIP funding must submit the following to their Regional Office:
A letter from the highest State court requesting FY 1999 funding
Time submission of the letter requesting funding to reflect the State's desired beginning date for the two-year program expenditure period. States may submit their requests in accordance with their current funding cycle or may request FY 1999 funding as late as August 1, 1999. Program and fiscal reports must be up-to-date before new funding will be awarded.
Standard Form 424, Application for Federal Assistance (see Attachment C)
Submit a completed Standard Form 424-A, describing a budget for the anticipated use of FY 1999 funds and a tentative budget for the remaining two years. Budgets should be prepared on the basis of the estimated allotments in Attachment B.
The State court must include funds in the budget adequate to support travel to Washington, D. C. to attend an annual meeting of all State court improvement projects supported under the CIP. For these meetings, State courts are encouraged to send a team consisting of a key juvenile/family court judge and an administrator who are instrumental in implementing this program. These travel funds may be budgeted as either Federal or non-Federal share.
A strategic plan for implementation of reforms during the period FYs 1999-2001,based on the State’s assessment
Uniform Project Description
OMB Control #0970-0139
Expiration Date 10/31/2000
Outline a plan of action which describes the scope and detail of how the proposed work will be accomplished. Account for all functions or activities identified in the application material. Cite factors which might accelerate or decelerate the work and state your reason for taking the proposed approach rather than others. Describe any unusual features of the project’s activities such as design or technological innovations, reductions in cost or time, or extraordinary social service agency and community involvement.
Provide quantitative monthly or quarterly projections of the accomplishments to be achieved for each function or activity in such terms as the number of TPRs or adoptions finalized, rules changed, or case review timeframes accelerated; or legislative changes enacted. When accomplishments cannot be quantified by activity or function, list them in chronological order to show the schedule of accomplishments and their target dates.
Identify the kinds of data to be collected, maintained, and/or disseminated. Note that clearance from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget might be needed prior to a "collection of information" that is "conducted or sponsored" by ACF. List organizations, cooperating entities, consultants, or other key individuals who will work on the project along with a short description of the nature of their effort or contribution.
An original and one copy of the application material must be submitted by the State court to the appropriate ACF Regional Hub Director or Administrator (Attachment E). A copy also should be sent to:
Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF)
330 C Street, S.W
Switzer Building, Room 2068
Washington, D.C. 20447
Attention: Carol W. Williams
Associate Commissioner, Children's Bureau
FY 2000 and FY 2001 Funds: To receive FY 2000 and FY 2001 funds, States receiving CIP funding must submit only the request for funding letter that is described above in "A." The letter should include a discussion of any changes from the projected budget on the Form 424-A or the strategic plan for implementation of reforms submitted in FY 1999. Program and fiscal reports must be up-to-date before new funding will be awarded.
THE PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT OF 1995 (Pub. L.
Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 16 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, gathering and maintaining the data needed and reviewing the collection information. The project description is approved under OMB control number 0970-0139 which expires 10/31/2000. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.
Administration for Children and Families
|Administration on Children, Youth and Families|
A: Program Instruction ACYF-PI-94-12
Attachment B: Estimated State Court Allotments for FYs 1999-2001
Attachment C: Standard Forms 424 and 424-A
Attachment D: List of State Child Welfare Administrators
Attachment E: List of ACF Regional Administrators
on Children and the Law, American Bar Association
National Center for State Courts, National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Permanency Planning for Children Department
National Center for Juvenile Justice