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S. 2944 (110th): Child Welfare Workforce Improvement Act


The text of the bill below is as of Apr 30, 2008 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.


II

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2944

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 30, 2008

(for Mrs. Clinton) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance

A BILL

To amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to examine and improve the child welfare workforce, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Child Welfare Workforce Improvement Act.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)
(A)

Research indicates that child welfare staff face a variety of obstacles that hinder their effective work with children and families in the child welfare system. These obstacles include barriers described in subparagraphs (B) through (D).

(B)

High caseload and high workload levels prevent child welfare staff from working intensively with children and families and monitoring their progress carefully.

(C)

Child welfare staff report a need for greater access to supervision, mentoring, and professional advancement. A lack of access to supervision, mentoring, and professional advancement contributes to staff burnout and turnover.

(D)

States report difficulty hiring and retaining quality child welfare staff. The average tenure of such a staff member is less than 2 years. In addition to increasing the cost of hiring and training new child welfare staff, high turnover rates among such staff are associated with multiple placements of children in foster care, longer lengths of stays in foster care, lower rates of permanency, and failed efforts at family reunification. Lengthy periods of foster care increase costs for child welfare agencies, as maintaining children in foster care is more expensive than adoption, reunification, or other permanency options.

(2)

Federal funding under part E of title IV of the Social Security Act for training of child welfare staff is limited. The related Federal funding procedures are linked to an outdated income eligibility requirement and administered in a way that fails to recognize the scope or types of staff who are working with children in the child welfare system.

3.

Definitions

Section 111 of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106g) is amended—

(1)

by redesignating paragraphs (3) through (6) as paragraphs (5) through (8), respectively; and

(2)

by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:

(3)

the term child welfare staff means—

(A)

employees of State and local child welfare agencies, who are working with children and families that have contact with such a child welfare agency, in order to promote safety, permanence, and well-being for children and families; and

(B)

employees of State-licensed or State-approved nonprofit private agencies, who are working with children and families that have contact with a State or local child welfare agency in order to promote safety, permanence, and well-being for children and families;

(4)

the term related professionals, used with respect to child welfare staff, means—

(A)

legal staff, working with children and families that have contact with a State or local child welfare agency, including judges, attorneys, guardians ad litem, and court appointed special advocates; and

(B)

individuals employed by public or nonprofit private agencies in child- and family-serving fields including education, health, mental health, substance abuse prevention and treatment, juvenile justice, and domestic violence services, who work with children and families that have contact with a State or local child welfare agency;

.

4.

Data collection and research to increase accountability for outcomes for children

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is amended by inserting after section 104 (42 U.S.C. 5105) the following:

104A.

Data collection and research to increase accountability for outcomes for children

(a)

National child welfare staff study

(1)

Study and report

The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences, under which the National Academy of Sciences shall—

(A)

conduct a national study of child welfare staff to—

(i)

examine and provide findings related to the demographic and other characteristics of child welfare staff, including salaries, academic degrees held, training received, and turnover;

(ii)

examine and provide findings regarding factors contributing to child welfare staff turnover and strategies that have been effective in reducing the turnover;

(iii)
(I)

examine and provide findings regarding strengths and challenges present in the working relationship between child welfare staff and related professionals; and

(II)

make recommendations regarding how this working relationship may be improved;

(iv)

examine and provide findings, and make recommendations, regarding appropriate overall workloads and caseloads for all child welfare staff, including appropriate workloads and caseloads for supervisors, analyzed by type of child welfare staff member supervised, and appropriate measurement of such overall workloads and caseloads;

(v)
(I)

examine and provide findings related to policy and practice regarding education level and training requirements for child welfare staff; and

(II)

make recommendations regarding appropriate education levels and training to ensure competent child welfare staff; and

(vi)
(I)

examine and provide findings related to the kinds of data available to or collected by State or local child welfare agencies with regard to child welfare staff;

(II)

examine the methods and kinds of data on child welfare staff that States report to the Secretary through the data collection systems authorized under section 103(c)(1)(C), section 477(f) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 677(f)), and section 479 of that Act (42 U.S.C. 679);

(III)

make recommendations on how States might collect data on child welfare staff, and report the data to the Secretary, regularly and in a manner that enables the data to be linked to the outcomes achieved for individual children served by the State or local child welfare agency involved, which shall include—

(aa)

a means of incorporating the data into the data collection system authorized under section 479 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 679); and

(bb)

as appropriate, a means of linking the data to the information collected through the data collection systems authorized under section 103(c)(1)(C) and under section 477(f) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 677(f)); and

(IV)

examine and provide findings regarding the impact of data collection procedures and requirements on child welfare staff, and make recommendations for collecting data on child welfare staff in such a way that the attention and time of child welfare staff are not diverted from providing services to children and families in order to meet data collection requirements; and

(B)

not later that 18 months after the date on which the Secretary and the National Academy of Sciences enter into the agreement, submit a report containing the results of the study, including the findings and recommendations described in subparagraph (A), to the Secretary.

(2)

Report to Congress

Not later than 3 months after receiving the report submitted under paragraph (1)(B), the Secretary shall transmit the report to the appropriate committees of Congress, along with a description of how the Secretary plans to consult with State administrators, child welfare staff, and other appropriate stakeholders to issue the proposed regulations described in subsection (b)(1).

(3)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out paragraph (1), $5,000,000 for fiscal years 2009 through 2013.

(b)

Collection and reporting of data on child welfare staff

(1)

Proposed regulations

The Secretary shall consult with State administrators, child welfare staff, and other appropriate stakeholders and, not later than 12 months after receiving the report described in subsection (a)(1)(B), shall issue proposed regulations, which shall—

(A)

be based on the recommendations of the report; and

(B)

require States to collect data on child welfare staff, and report the data to the Secretary, regularly and in a manner that enables the data to be linked to the outcomes achieved for individual children served by the State or local child welfare agency involved, which shall include—

(i)

a means of incorporating the data into the data collection system authorized under section 479 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 679); and

(ii)

as appropriate, a means of linking the data to the information collected through the data collection systems authorized under section 103(c)(1)(C) and under section 477(f) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 677(f)).

(2)

Final regulations

Not later than 2 years after receiving the report described in subsection (a)(1)(B), the Secretary shall issue final regulations that meet the requirements of subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1).

.

5.

Removal of barriers to providing training for child welfare staff and related professionals under parts B and E of title IV of the Social Security Act

(a)

Removal of certain funding restrictions

(1)

In general

Section 474 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 672) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(g)

Training expenditures To develop and improve the child welfare workforce

(1)

De-linking of AFDC eligibility criteria

The Secretary shall treat as necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the State plan all expenditures by a State for training activities described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(3) without regard to whether individuals participating in such activities include individuals providing services or treatment to foster or adoptive children other than those on behalf of whom foster care maintenance payments or adoption assistance payments may be made under this part.

(2)

Training related to services for children and families that have contact with the State agency or the local agency administering a State plan

The Secretary shall treat as necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the State plan all expenditures by the State for training activities described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(3) without regard to whether such training covers services, programs, and activities carried out under the State plan approved under this part or the State plans approved under part B.

(3)

Removal of prohibition on funding State share from private sources for expenditures for training partnerships with private nonprofit educational institutions

With respect to expenditures by a State for short- and long-term training at educational institutions through grants to such institutions or by direct financial assistance to students enrolled in such institutions for which Federal payments are provided under subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (a)(3) funds from private nonprofit educational institutions may be considered as the State's share in claiming Federal reimbursement for such expenditures without regard to any requirement that the funds—

(A)

be transferred to the State or local agency and under its administrative control;

(B)

be donated without any restriction which would require their use for the training of a particular individual or at particular facilities or institutions; or

(C)

do not revert to the private source's facility or use.

.

(2)

Conforming amendments

Section 474(a)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 674(a)(3)) is amended—

(A)

in the matter preceding subparagraph (A), by inserting subsection (g) and before section 472(i);

(B)

in subparagraph (A), by striking per centum and inserting percent; and

(C)

in subparagraph (B), by striking receiving assistance under this part.

(b)

Definition of child welfare staff and related professionals

Section 474(a)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 674(a)(3)) is amended—

(1)

in subparagraph (A)—

(A)

by striking personnel and inserting child welfare staff (as such term is defined in section 111 of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106g)); and

(B)

by inserting or by State-licensed or State-approved nonprofit private agencies, after political subdivision,; and

(2)

in subparagraph (B) (as amended by subsection (a)(2)(C))—

(A)

by inserting (i) after (B);

(B)

by striking current or prospective foster or adoptive parents and the members of the staff of State-licensed or State-approved child care institutions providing care to foster and adopted children, in ways that increase the ability of such current or prospective parents, staff members, and institutions and inserting child welfare staff (as so defined), current or prospective foster or adoptive parents, and the members of the staff of State-licensed or State-approved child care institutions providing care to foster and adopted children, in ways that increase the ability of such staff, current or prospective parents, and institutions;

(C)

by adding and after contract,; and

(D)

by adding at the end the following new subclause:

(ii)

75 percent of so much of such expenditures as are for the short-term training of related professionals (as such term is defined in section 111 of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (42 U.S.C. 5106g)) to the extent that such training pertains to the way in which those related professionals work with children and families that have contact with the State agency or the local agency administering the plan in the political subdivision,

.

(c)

State plan requirement for annual evaluation and assessment of training and staff development activities under parts B and E

Section 471(a)(7) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 671(a)(7)) is amended—

(1)

by striking will monitor and inserting “will—

(A)

monitor

;

(2)

by adding and after the semicolon; and

(3)

by adding the following new subparagraph:

(B)

with respect to training activities for which Federal payments are provided under subparagraph (A) or (B) of 474(a)(3), establish and maintain a plan for evaluation of such activities, and of the child welfare services staff development and training conducted by the State in accordance with section 422(b)(4)(B), that includes at least an annual assessment of the nature of the such activities and such staff development and training, the types of staff trained and developed, and the intended and actual impact of the training and staff development activities on participating staff, and on children and families;

.

(d)

Effective Date

(1)

In general

The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the 1st day of the 1st calendar quarter that begins on or after the date of the enactment of this Act, without regard to whether regulations to implement the amendment are promulgated by such date.

(2)

Delay permitted if state legislation required

In the case of a State plan approved under section 471 of the Social Security Act which requires State legislation (other than legislation appropriating funds) in order for the plan to meet the additional requirements imposed by the amendment made by subsection (a) of this section, the State plan shall not be regarded as failing to comply with the additional requirements solely on the basis of the failure of the plan to meet the additional requirements before the first day of the first calendar quarter beginning after the close of the first regular session of the State legislature that begins after the date of the enactment of this Act. For purposes of the previous sentence, in the case of a State that has a 2-year legislative session, each year of such session shall be deemed to be a separate regular session of the State legislature.