Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Child Welfare: Better Data and Guidance Could Help States Reinvest Adoption Savings and Improve Federal Oversight

From The U.S. Government Accountability Office:

Legislation enacted in 2008 increased federal reimbursement of state assistance payments to adoptive families, saving states more than $800 million from FY 2015-19. But, states must reinvest all of these "adoption savings" back into child welfare services.

From fiscal years 2015 through 2019, states collectively reinvested $516 million of the $843 million they accrued in “adoption savings”.

The Children's Bureau—part of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF)—monitors states' adoption savings reinvestment, but its oversight is hindered by a lack of detailed data. Further, there is no statutory deadline for states to spend their savings, and Children's Bureau officials said states can delay their spending indefinitely. Also, the state data the Children's Bureau collects annually does not always allow it to definitively determine states' compliance with the requirement to spend at least 30 percent of their annual adoption savings on post-permanency and preventative services, including at least 20 percent on post-permanency services (the 20 and 30 percent requirements). If states do not reinvest their adoption savings or meet the 20 and 30 percent requirements, children will not benefit from the additional spending as intended by the law.

Nearly half (23 of 52) of the states reported in GAO's survey at least one significant challenge to reinvesting their adoption savings, most often citing early spending difficulties such as needing time to understand the new requirements and competing state budget priorities. 

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 included a provision for GAO to study states' adoption savings reinvestment.

Read more here

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2021/10/child-welfare-better-data-and-guidance-could-help-states-reinvest-adoption-savings-and-improve-feder.html

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