By Vasanth Parthasarathy
Determining eligibility for Federal assistance in foster care is an important component of child welfare. We look at how a sound case management system for child welfare can help states in this process.
The Title IV-E of the Social Security Act is an important Federal funding stream that keeps the foster care system running. It covers the Federal assistance for the costs of foster care maintenance for eligible children, administrative expenses to manage the program, and training for staff, foster parents, and providers.
Through Title IV-E, states can apply for Federal reimbursement for a portion of the maintenance and administrative costs of foster care for children who meet eligibility requirements. Some states like New York can claim Federal reimbursement for 50 percent of their foster care costs, thus helping state agencies offset local costs of providing foster care to children.
While earlier, states were allowed to use Title IV-E funds only to offset costs toward keeping eligible children in foster care, administrative expenses, training staff and foster parents, and adoption and kinship guardianship assistance, the funds can now also be used towards prevention services. For example, the funds can be utilized to help children and youth eligible for foster care to stay with their parents or guardians while problems within their households are being worked out.
Clearly, it plays a significant role in a case plan, but determining eligibility for Title IV-E is not a simple process as not all children in foster care are eligible. The onus is then on the caseworker to carefully collect all the documentation and paperwork required to apply for eligibility for a child. This manual, error-prone process can set the State back in getting the eligibility funds in time and overwhelm overburdened case managers out on the field with administrative tasks.
A complicated and time-consuming process like eligibility determination, when left to be done manually, can result in several delays and human errors. Disparate child welfare systems do not paint the whole picture of a case and fail in providing all the data points necessary for eligibility application in one place. A child welfare system, thus, needs to make room for a reliable Eligibility module.
Using Cardinality’s child welfare platform, a caseworker can establish a child's eligibility under Title IV-E on the basis of the configured rules and client-provided data. The eligibility determination process applies eligibility rules against collected information to determine whether the child is eligible under Title IV-E.
The solution takes into account eligibility factors—like age, ethnicity, removal details, medical records, court orders, family income information, household composition, citizenship, child support information, etc—for initial Title IV-E application, which are defined in the platform’s business rules engine.
The Eligibility module of our fully online platform supports automated, efficient, economic, and effective administration of the State’s Title IV-E plans. It also meets the applicable CCWIS requirements for Title IV-E Automation, which enables the flow of information about a child, parent or family into the eligibility systems.
Caseworkers and eligibility workers can run through the checklist in a matter of minutes and avoid back-and-forths, so that the State agency can apply for eligibility in time. The solution is capable of sieving through all the data points that deem the child eligible. And, caseworkers and supervisors can easily keep tabs on and submit applications for Federal program assistance and reimbursements under the program.
Importantly, all the records are automatically maintained for Federal audits, which happen regularly. The compliance reviews for Title IV-E eligible foster care and adoption cases are determined and documented in a manner consistent with Federal requirements, while the solution consistently reviews foster care and adoption subsidy cases to identify errors, and, in relevant cases, adds additional information that can make cases eligible.
The solution also provides secure and restricted (view-only) remote access to Federal auditors of the Title IV-E and B eligibility data maintained by the State agency.
Speak to us to see how we can help your State keep on top of the eligibility process and ensure children in foster care receive the support they need.