The Department of Children, Youth and Families will soon receive federal reimbursement – up to $13 million a year – to help provide services to children and youth within their own homes. DCYF announced the approval of a waiver effective July 1, 2014, that would allow for more flexible use of federal funds last week.
“We want to keep families together as much as possible,” said DCYF Director Janice DeFrances.
Historically, federal reimbursements to states have been determined by the cost of providing out of home care for children, including foster and group homes. But this is a Catch-22 – if states aim to keep children in their own homes, their federal funding goes down.
As Rhode Island has sought to keep children in their own homes, the amount of federal reimbursement to DCYF has decreased over the years. The new waiver decouples federal reimbursement and the number of children in out-of-home placements. The state will receive a stable amount of funding for five years – up to $13 million a year – to support children and youth in their own homes and communities. For example, DCYF will be able to provide family-driven wrap-around services, such as providing after school care, and be reimbursed by the federal government.
In a press release, DeFrances explained that the waiver will increase permanency for children in care and help older youth successfully transition to adulthood. It will also prevent child abuse, neglect, and re-entry into foster homes, DeFrances added.