The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced in a December 5, 2011, letter to tribal leaders (attached) that it is seeking input from tribes on the new grant program designed to improve tribal court handling of child welfare cases.
The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, signed into law September 30, 2011, as PL 112-34, authorized for the first time tribal access to funding under the Court Improvement Program. Previously, all funds from that program were allocated via formula to the highest court in each state. Under PL 112-34, $1 million is allocated annually for tribes and tribal consortia – these are entitlement funds and thus not subject to the appropriations process. The grants will be competitive for tribes and tribal consortia who: 1) are operating a Title IV-E Foster Care/Adoption Assistance Program; or 2) are seeking to operate a Title IV-E program and have an implementation grant for this purpose; or 3) have a court responsible for proceedings related to foster care or adoption. Thus, the tribal eligibility is very broad.
The Court Improvement Program provides funds to assist courts in the handling of child abuse and neglect cases; to train judges and other personnel in the handling of child welfare cases; to improve the data surrounding child welfare cases; and to engage the entire family in court processes relating to child welfare. DHHS has scheduled two conference calls to seek input on matters including the administration, scope, and duration of the grant awards. The dates and times are:
• Wednesday, January 11, 2012, 2 -3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
• Thursday, January 12, 2012, 2-3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Also attached is a list of questions that DHHS asks tribes to consider in preparation for the conference calls.
Please let us know if we may provide additional information or assistance regarding the tribal Court Improvement Program grants.