The Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services has released a much anticipated Information Memorandum detailing plans for state child welfare waiver demonstration projects in the coming years. State child welfare agencies are now considering applying for these demonstration projects. For FY 2012 demonstrations, proposals are due July 9.
The priority areas for the waiver demonstrations are to:
  1. produce positive well-being outcomes for children, youth and their families;
  2. enhance the social and emotional well-being of children and youth;
  3. yield more than modest improvements in the lives of children and families; and/or
  4. leverage the involvement of other resources and partners to make improvements concurrently through child welfare and related program areas.
The waiver demonstration projects are designed to allow more flexible use of federal funds in order to test new approaches to service delivery and financing structures, in an effort to improve outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system. These demonstration projects involve the waiver of certain requirements of titles IV-E, the section of the Social Security Act that govern the foster care, adoption assistance and optional kinship guardianship assistance programs. They do not however provide additional funding to carry out new services.
The guiding principle of the waiver process is that there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that there are promising and effective approaches to improve outcomes for children and families in which abuse and/or neglect has taken place or is likely to take place. However, such approaches are utilized too rarely by many child welfare agencies. The goal of the waivers is to facilitate innovation and experimentation in child welfare programs through the demonstrations and to improve outcomes for children. ACF is encouraging states to consider whether funding flexibility and improvements in the service strategies for children both at risk of foster care placement and those already placed outside the home could lead to better outcomes for children.  
The IM also describes how the public can be involved in the development of strong demonstration projects. CWLA private provider members can play an important role in developing high quality proposals and are encouraged to be involved in the application process. We will be hosting a webinar on this topic with Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families on May 29th. For more information regarding this webinar including registration details please contact us at .