S 1013

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 1013

To renew the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in State child welfare programs.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 17, 2011

Mr. BAUCUS (for himself, Mr. HATCH, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, and Mr. ENZI) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance


A BILL

To renew the authority of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to approve demonstration projects designed to test innovative strategies in State child welfare programs.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `State Child Welfare Innovation Act'.

SEC. 2. RENEWAL OF AUTHORITY TO APPROVE DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS DESIGNED TO TEST INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES IN STATE CHILD WELFARE PROGRAMS.

    Section 1130 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a-9) is amended--

      (1) in subsection (a)--

        (A) in paragraph (2), by striking `1998 through 2003' and inserting `2011 through 2014';

        (B) by striking paragraph (3) and inserting the following:

      `(3) CONDITIONS FOR STATE ELIGIBILITY- In order to be authorized to conduct a new demonstration project under this section in any of fiscal years 2011 through 2014, a State shall satisfy the following conditions:

        `(A) IDENTIFY 1 OR MORE GOALS- The State shall demonstrate that the demonstration project is designed to accomplish 1 or more of the following goals:

          `(i) Increase permanency for all infants, children, and youth by reducing the time in foster placements when possible and promoting a successful transition to adulthood for older youth.

          `(ii) Increase positive outcomes for infants, children, youth, and families in their homes and communities, including tribal communities, and improve the safety and well-being of infants, children, and youth.

          `(iii) Prevent child abuse and neglect and the re-entry of infants, children, and youth into foster care.

        `(B) DEMONSTRATE READINESS- The State shall demonstrate through a narrative description the State's capacity to effectively use the authority to conduct a demonstration project under this section by identifying changes the State has made or plans to make in policies, procedures, or other elements of the State's child welfare program that will enable the State to successfully achieve the goal or goals of the project.

        `(C) DEMONSTRATE IMPLEMENTED OR PLANNED CHILD WELFARE PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT POLICIES- The State shall demonstrate that the State has implemented, or plans to implement within 2 years of the date of enactment of the State Child Welfare Innovation Act, at least 3 of the child welfare program improvement policies described in paragraph (6), of which--

          `(i) 3 such policies are policies that the State has not previously implemented as of the date on which the State submits an application to conduct the demonstration project; or

          `(ii) 2 such policies are policies that the State implemented after the enactment of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351) and 1 such policy is a policy that the State has not previously implemented.';

        (C) in paragraph (4)--

          (i) by inserting `or kinship guardianship assistance' after `assistance'; and

          (ii) by inserting `or relative guardian' after `parents';

        (D) in paragraph (5), by inserting `and the ability of the State to implement a corrective action plan approved under section 1123A' before the period; and

        (E) by adding at the end the following:

      `(6) CHILD WELFARE PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT POLICIES-

        `(A) POLICIES DESCRIBED- For purposes of paragraph (3)(C), the child welfare program improvement policies described in this paragraph are the following:

          `(i) The establishment of a bill of rights for infants, children, and youth in foster care that is widely shared and clearly outlines protections for infants, children, and youth, such as assuring frequent visits with parents, siblings, and caseworkers, access to attorneys, and participation in age-appropriate extracurricular activities, and procedures for ensuring the protections are provided.

          `(ii) The development and implementation of a plan for meeting the health and mental health needs of infants, children, and youth in foster care that includes ensuring that the provision of health and mental health care is child-specific, comprehensive, appropriate, and consistent (through means such as ensuring the infant, child, or youth has a medical home, regular wellness medical visits, and addressing the issue of trauma, when appropriate).

          `(iii) The establishment of procedures and protocols for promoting educational stability for children and youth in foster care by keeping such children and youth in the same school while they are in foster care, unless remaining in that school is not in their best interest, consistent with the requirements of paragraphs (1)(G) and (4)(A) of section 475.

          `(iv) The inclusion in the State plan under section 471 of an amendment implementing the option under subsection (a)(28) of that section to enter into kinship guardianship assistance agreements.

          `(v) The development and implementation of specific procedures for protecting children and youth from the inappropriate use of psychotropic medications, including providing for regularly reporting on the use of psychotropic medications for children and youth in foster care that includes reporting the ages and type of placements of such children and youth who receive such medications.

          `(vi) The development and implementation of a plan that ensures congregate care is used appropriately and reduces the placement of children and youth in such care.

          `(vii) Of those infants, children, and youth in out-of-home placements, substantially increasing the number of cases of siblings who are in the same foster care, kinship guardianship, or adoptive placement, above the number of such cases in fiscal year 2008.

          `(viii) The development and implementation of a plan to improve the recruitment and retention of high quality foster family homes trained to help assist infants, children, and youth secure permanent families swiftly. Supports for foster families under such a plan may include increasing maintenance payments to more adequately meet the needs of infants, children, and youth in foster care and expanding training, respite care, and other support services for foster parents.

          `(ix) The establishment of procedures designed to assist youth as they prepare for their transition out of foster care, such as arranging for participation in age-appropriate extra-curricular activities, providing appropriate access to cell phones, computers, and opportunities to obtain a driver's license, and providing counseling and financial support for post-secondary education.

          `(x) The inclusion in the State plan under section 471 of a description of State procedures for--

            `(I) ensuring that youth in foster care who have attained age 16 are engaged in discussions, including during the development of the transition plans required under paragraphs (1)(D) and (5)(H) of section 475, that explore whether the youth wishes to reconnect with the youth's biological family, including parents, grandparents, and siblings, and, if so, what skills and strategies the youth will need to successfully and safely reconnect with those family members;

            `(II) providing appropriate guidance and services to youth whom affirm an intent to reconnect with biological family members on how to successfully and safely manage such reconnections; and

            `(III) making, when appropriate, efforts to include biological family members in such reconnection efforts.

          `(xi) The establishment of one or more of the following programs designed to prevent infants, children, and youth from entering foster care or to provide permanency for infants, children, and youth in foster care:

            `(I) An intensive family finding program.

            `(II) A kinship navigator program.

            `(III) A family counseling program, such as a family group decision-making program, and which may include in-home peer support for families.

            `(IV) A comprehensive family-based substance abuse treatment program.

            `(V) A program under which special efforts are made to identify and address domestic violence that endangers infants, children, and youth and puts them at risk of entering foster care.

          `(xii) The inclusion in the State plan under section 471 of an amendment implementing the option under subsection (a)(28) of that section to enter into kinship guardianship assistance agreements.

          `(xiii) The inclusion in the State plan under section 471 of an amendment implementing each of the options under subclauses (I), (II), and (III) of section 475(8)(B)(i) to define a `child' for purposes of the provision of foster care maintenance payments, adoption assistance payments, and kinship guardianship assistance payments, as an individual who has not attained age 21 (or, in the case of a State that has had such a definition prior to 2008 for purposes of the provision of foster care maintenance payments, an amendment implementing each of the options under subclauses (II) and (III) of that section).

        `(B) DEFINITION- In this paragraph, the term `youth' means, with respect to a State, an individual who has attained age 12 but has not attained the age at which an individual is no longer considered to be a child under the State plans under parts B and E of title IV.';

      (2) in subsection (d), by striking `5 years' and all that follows through the period and inserting `3 years. The Secretary shall not authorize the extension or renewal of any demonstration project conducted under this section after September 30, 2018.';

      (3) in subsection (e)--

        (A) in paragraph (1), by striking `(which shall provide,' and all that follows up to the semicolon;

        (B) by striking `and' at the end of paragraph (6);

        (C) by redesignating paragraph (7) as paragraph (9); and

        (D) by inserting after paragraph (6) the following:

      `(7) an accounting of any additional Federal, State, local, and private investments (other than those with respect to which matching funds were provided under part B or E of title IV) made, during the 2 fiscal years preceding the application to provide the services described in paragraph (1), and an assurance that the State will provide an accounting of that same spending for each year of an approved demonstration project;

      `(8) an assurance that the State will continue to expend, during each year of the demonstration project, an amount at least equivalent to the average amount of Federal, State, and local funds expended on the services described in paragraph (1) during the 2 fiscal years preceding the fiscal year in which the application is submitted; and';

      (4) by redesignating subsection (g) as subsection (h);

      (5) by striking subsection (f) and inserting the following:

    `(f) State Evaluations-

      `(1) IN GENERAL- A State authorized to conduct a demonstration project under this section shall obtain an evaluation by an independent contractor of the effectiveness of the project that is--

        `(A) conducted in accordance with guidance from the Secretary on establishing an appropriate and rigorous comparative methodology that does not result in the denial of child welfare services to any group of infants, children, youth, and families; and

        `(B) uses an evaluation design that is determined by the Secretary to be consistent with such guidance and satisfies the requirements of paragraph (2).

      `(2) REQUIRED DESIGN ELEMENTS- The evaluation design shall provide for--

        `(A) comparison of methods of service delivery under the project, and such methods under a State plan or plans, with respect to efficiency, economy, and any other appropriate measures of program management;

        `(B) comparison of the amounts of Federal, State, local and private investments in the services described in subsection (e)(1), by service type, with the amount of the investments during the period of the demonstration project; and

        `(C) any other information that the Secretary may require.

      `(3) EVALUATION REPORTS- A State authorized to conduct a demonstration project under this section shall provide, in addition to the reports required under subsection (g)(1), interim and final evaluation reports to the Secretary, at such times and in such manner as the Secretary may require.

      `(4) CHILD WELFARE SERVICES DEFINED- In this subsection, the term `child welfare services' means services intended to prevent the abuse or neglect of children, to ensure that children have safe, permanent homes, and to promote the well-being of children and their families. Such term includes any services described in the preceding sentence that are provided under a program authorized or funded under title IV, and services provided under programs designed to prevent infants, children, and youth from entering foster care, including the following programs: An in-home family preservation program, an intensive family finding program, a kinship navigator program, a family counseling program such as a family group decision-making program (which may include in-home peer support for families), a comprehensive family-based substance abuse treatment program, and a program under which special efforts are made to identify and address domestic violence that endangers infants, children, and youth and puts them at risk of entering foster care.

    `(g) State and Congressional Reports-

      `(1) STATE REPORTS; PUBLIC AVAILABILITY- Each State authorized to conduct a demonstration project under this section shall--

        `(A) submit periodic reports to the Secretary on the specific programs, activities, and strategies used to improve outcomes for infants, children, youth, and families and the results achieved for infants, children, and youth during the conduct of the demonstration project, including with respect to those infants, children, and youth who are prevented from entering foster care, infants, children, and youth in foster care, and infants, children, and youth who move from foster care to permanent families; and

        `(B) post a copy of each such report on the Internet website for the State child welfare program concurrent with the submission of the report to the Secretary.

      `(2) REPORTS TO CONGRESS- The Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of the Senate--

        `(A) periodic reports based on the State reports submitted under paragraph (1); and

        `(B) a report based on the results of the State evaluations required under subsection (f) that includes an analysis of the results of such evaluations and such recommendations for administrative or legislative changes as the Secretary determines appropriate.'; and

      (6) by adding at the end the following:

    `(i) Indian Tribes Operating IV-E Programs Considered States- An Indian tribe, tribal organization, or tribal consortium that has elected to operate a program under part E of title IV in accordance with section 479B shall be considered a State for purposes of this section.'.

SEC. 3. BUDGETARY EFFECTS.

    The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled `Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation' for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

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