GAO Report on Title IV-B

Title IV-B of the Social Security Act is the primary source of federal funding for services to help families address problems that lead to child abuse and neglect and to prevent the unnecessary separation of children from their families. Title IV-B is divided into two parts. States can use subpart 1 funds on almost any child welfare activity.

Subpart 2 provides grants to states for similar types of child welfare services, such as family support services to enhance family stability and services to help parents reunify with a child in foster care, but is more restrictive in how the funds can be spent. In fiscal year 2003, appropriations were $292 million for subpart 1 and $405 million for subpart 2.

This GAO Report examines the following: (1) How do the services provided and populations served under subpart 1 compare with those under subpart 2? (2) What has the federal government’s role been in overseeing the use of Title IV-B subpart 1 funds? (3) What does the research say about the effectiveness of services unique to subpart 1?

The GAO found that little research is available on the effectiveness of unique services funded by subpart 1 at the state level because few states have evaluated these services.

The GAO discovered that in Fiscal Year 2002, states spent less than 3% of Title IV-B subpart 1 and 14% of subpart 2 funding on adoption services. Although one essential purpose of Title IV-B subpart 1 funding is adoption assistance, only 7 states out of 46 that responded used the funding for adoption subsidy payments which accounted for less than 2% of the funding. Additionally, though adoption promotion and support is one of four major purposes of subpart 2, just 16 states of 44 responding spent less than 3% of that funding on recruitment and training of foster and adoptive parents and 27 states spent 11% of it on adoption support and preservation. Finally the GAO found that 13 states spent 5% of subpart 1 funds on services for children waiting for adoption, adopted children and adoptive parents, while 31 states spent 16% of subpart 2 money on that group.

The GAO recommended that the Secretary of HHS (1) provide the necessary guidance to ensure that HHS regional offices are providing appropriate oversight of subpart 1, (2) consider the feasibility of collecting basic data on states’ use of these funds to facilitate its oversight of the program and to provide guidance to help states determine appropriate services to fund, and (3) use the information gained through enhanced oversight of subpart 1 to inform its design of the child welfare option that would allow states to use Title IV-E funds for the same range of services allowed under Title IV-B.

CHILD WELFARE: Enhanced Federal Oversight of Title IV-B Could Provide States Additional Information to Improve Services.

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