The purpose of this piece is to provide commentary of an article, Child Welfare Waivers: The Stakes for Your State, that discusses the recent reauthorization of the Title IV-E Child Welfare Waivers. The article provides an overview of funds available to the states for child welfare programs and their intended purpose and restrictions placed on use. As structured, the present system rewards states monetarily for maintaining foster care. Research from waiver programs shows promising results for improved outcomes at the same or lower financial cost by utilizing safe, proven alternatives to the current foster care system. Waiver funds also protect the financial commitment to child welfare because state legislative budget slashing in this area will result in the loss of Federal funding. The independent analysis required with the grant of a waiver must be maintained to provide ongoing analysis and oversight of the increase spending flexibility. Stakeholders must be aware of the program and its results and use these funds as an opportunity to assess new concepts and apply programs best suited to the needs of children in their state. Allowing those “on the ground” to determine appropriate programming and careful result assessment may be the best means for protecting children, preserving families and doing both in a manner that makes the most efficient use of available resources.

Author Biography

Stephanie M. Smith is Regional Director of the National Child Protection Training Center (NCPTC) serving the southern region of the United States from its location on the campus of NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Bentonville, AR. The NCPTC works to end child abuse through education, training, awareness, prevention, advocacy and the pursuit of justice, including establishing its Child Advocacy Studies (CAST) programs in both undergraduate and graduate institutions. Ms. Smith is a former deputy prosecutor from Hamilton County, Indiana, where she prosecuted crimes against children and was actively involved in the county’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. She was also a member of the Child Protection Team for Hamilton County prior to her current position with NCPTC.

A Response To:

Richard Wexler, Child Welfare Waivers: The Stakes for Families