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Title IV-E Program Funding

Title IV-E of the Social Security Act provides funds for states and tribes to provide foster care, transitional independent living programs for children, guardianship assistance, and adoption assistance for children with special needs. Funds are available under title IV-E for the following:

Title IV-E Foster Care - Assistance with costs of foster care for eligible children and associated administrative and training costs

Title IV-E Adoption Assistance - Financial and medical assistance for the adoption of children with special needs and associated administrative and training costs

Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance - Financial and medical assistance for guardianship of eligible children and associated administrative and training costs

John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program - Funds to help older youth in foster care and former foster care youth acquire training and independent living skills so they can become self-sufficient

Tribal Access to Title IV-E Funding Through Tribal-State Agreements

Tribal-State IV-E agreements provide a foundation for establishing relationships between tribal and state governments for the provision of child welfare services. The Fostering Connections to Success an Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 requires states to negotiate Title IV-E Agreements in good faith with tribes. Approximately half of the tribes that participated in the NRC4Tribes National TA Needs Assessment interviews report that they have agreements with the state or states in which the tribe resides that allow them to operate Title IV-E foster care programs (providing some or all Title IV-E reimbursement categories) and receive Title IV-E reimbursements for eligible services.

These agreements describe how ICWA will be implemented and address services provided to American Indian/Alaska Native children in non-kinship out-of-home care. They also specify procedures, roles, and responsibilities for tribal notification when the state receives a referral for an Indian child; when and how state or tribal law enforcement is involved; the roles of the BIA and state and tribal courts; guidance dealing with transfers of jurisdiction to tribes that have their own child protection programs and courts; and procedures for establishing eligibility for Title IV-E payments.

Nearly half of the tribes that participated in the needs assessment that currently had a tribal-state agreement felt that their agreements were working insofar as the tribe agreed with the terms, the agreement was consistently honored by the state, and the tribe and state worked collaboratively to serve Indian children and families in a culturally appropriate way. These “satisfied” tribes were likely to:

  • Have an agreement that clarifies jurisdictional authority and how services are provided to protect American Indian/Alaska Native children;
  • Meet regularly with state child welfare representatives who were part of state or tribal advisory committees, forums, or CPT/Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) groups; and
  • Have a close working relationship with at least one key individual from the state child welfare system, although this relationship may have taken years to build.

Those tribes that reported challenges working with their tribal-state agreements cited a lack of communication; a lack of state/county adherence to the terms and spirit of the agreement (namely, failure of states to notify tribes as per ICWA); and issues with the agreement.

Many tribes who reported strong working relationships with their state child welfare programs credit this to a developmental process of relationship-building and a longer history of collaboration, as well as motivation on the part of both the state and the tribe to work in partnership and mutual respect in order to achieve the common goal of serving children and families.

Developing Tribal-State Agreements requires internal planning by tribal leaders, tribal child welfare staff and tribal legal staff in advance of approaching state child welfare agency leadership to discuss negotiations.

The following is a formal recommendation of the 2011 NRC4Tribes Technical Assistance Needs Assessment

Tribal Child Welfare Operations: T/TA Recommendations

Recommendation: Support the strengthening and improvement of tribal/state relationship

The NRC4Tribes and the T/TA Network should work with tribes and states to determine whether T/TA requests by state agencies have an impact on tribes within the state in question; develop structured mechanisms of communication; improve the ability of tribes to access Statewide Automated Information Systems (SACWIS); identify and address cross-training challenges; and address the repercussions of long-standing historical trauma and distrust.


Tribal Access to Title IV-E Funding Through Direct Federal Access

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-351) added a new section 479B to the Social Security Act
(the Act) which allows Indian tribes the option to apply to the Secretary to receive Federal funding to support the administration of their own foster care, adoption assistance, and guardianship assistance programs under title IV-E of the Act.

The law also amended the Act at section 476(c)(2)(A)(iii) to allow Indian tribes to receive one-time development grants of up to $300,000 to be used to offset the cost of developing a title IV- plan to carry out the requirements of the new section 479B of the Act. Development grants may be used by the Indian tribe for any costs attributable to meeting the requirements for approval of a tribally-operated title IV-E plan. For more information about the expired grant opportunity go to: The deadline has passed for this year's proposal submission, but resources are always available for the next years submissions.

For more information about direct access to Title IV-E funding opportunities, Tribal leaders and tribal child welfare directors should communicate with their federal regional Administration for Children and Families (ACF) office. In addition, the NRC4Tribes has developed the following resource materials about Title IV-E access.

Title IV-E Program Resources

  • A Survey and Analysis of Select Title IV-E Tribal-State Agreements including Template of Promising Practices 

    This report provides a detailed analysis of Title IV-E tribal-state agreements, which includes an overall summary of the status of current Title IV-E agreements, as well as a breakdown of the provisions that can be found in those agreements by subject matter. This report was prepared during a 14 month period between October 2012 and December 2013. It took into account 98 agreements representing 267 Indian Nations from 16 states that pass federal Title IV-E allowable costs to the tribes.  During that period, some agreements expired and new agreements were developed. Other agreements were replaced by direct funding programs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 679B. Thus, this report does not attempt to provide  definitive numbers of  current tribal-state agreements or their exact status.  Rather, its goal is to provide an overview of the substantive landscape of Title IV-E tribal-state agreements during a particular window of time.

    Pathways to Tribal Title IV-E - Tribal Title IV-E Options
    This document is the result of a Technical Assistance request from the South Dakota Department of Social Services through the NRC4Tribes, This document does not cover all Title IV-E and related requirements or policy answers and represents a simplified account of actual requirements.
  • NRC4Tribes Pathways to Tribal Title IV-E
    In 2012 the National Child Resource Center for Tribes, in collaboration with the federal Children's Bureau, held two Pathways to Tribal Title IV-E meetings designed specifically for tribes who were actively planning to develop Tribal Title IV-E foster care services through direct access. These working meetings offered practical, hands on information about day-to-day operations of a Tribal Title IV-E funded child welfare program. Presenters and facilitators included federal Children's Bureau staff along with National Resource Center staff and consultants, including tribal peer trainers who have experience with Tribal Title IV-E programs.
  • Using Tribal/State Title IV-E Agreements to Help American Indian Tribes Access Foster Care and Adoption Funding - Eddie Brown
    This resource was developed prior to the passage of the Fostering Connections law which not only provided for direct Tribal Title IV-E, but also (1) included a new requirement that states are required to negotiate IV-E agreements with tribes in good faith, if requested; and (2) also provided that the state may utilize the tribe’s FMAP for payments made pursuant to a Title IV-E tribal-state agreement which will often result in a higher level of federal reimbursement under a tribal-state agreement for foster care maintenance, adoption and guardianship payments than would have previously been the case.
  • Association on American Indian Affairs - Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Act of 2008

    The Role of the States in helping to implement the tribal provisions in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.
    P.L. 110-351 authorizes Indian tribes to submit a plan for approval to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to directly operate the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program. It also recognizes the right of tribes to continue or seek new agreements with states to operate the program. In either case, states have an important role to play in optimizing the ability of tribes to successfully operate this program.

  • American Indian Title IV-E Application Planning Process: Tribal Progress, Challenges, and Recommendations
    This Casey Family Programs September 2012 Report highlights the experiences, concerns and recommendations of tribes who received the plan development grant and who have been active in the IV-E planning process as they seek to assume their sovereign rights and responsibilities for youth. They also see to improve funding, develop culturally congruent child welfare programming and builds models, tools, and methodologies that can assist other tribes.

  • Association on American Indian Affairs - Tribal Provisions - P.L. 110-351, October 2008

  • Title IV-E: Helping Tribes Meet the Legal Requirements - Jack F. Trope
    The basic federal child welfare statute can be found in Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. This statute has provided core funding for state child welfare systems and established certain requirements that must be included in state statutes in order for states to receive these funds.

  • Tribal Title IV-E Considerations
    This is a Technical Assistance Document of the Children's Bureau - April 2009. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, Public Law 110-351, provides federally recognized Indian Tribes, Indian Tribal Organizations and Consortia (Indian Tribes) with the option to submit a plan to the Administration for Children and Families to operate a title IV-E program directly. This document is designed as a technical assistance tool for Indian Tribes to use in considering how to plan for the resources, policies and procedures they will or may need to implement a direct title IV-E program.

  • Fostering Connections Website
    This website is a gathering place of information, training and tools related to furthering the implementation of the Fostering Connections law.  Specifically, this site aims to connect implementers with the latest information and the best experts and advocates working on these issues.

List of Title IV-E Development Grantees (FY2009-FY2012)

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