Summary: H.R.3603 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (08/06/1992)

Children's Initiative - Family Preservation Act of 1992 - States that titles I through V of this Act may be cited as the Family Preservation Act of 1992 - Title I: Child Welfare Services - Amends part B (Child Welfare Services) of title IV of the Social Security Act (SSA) to create a capped entitlement program to provide child welfare services designed to strengthen and preserve families.

Provides for allotments, reallotments, and payments to States of entitlement funds.

Requires use of part of such funds to develop or expand specialized child welfare service programs for families in crisis due to substance abuse. Requires uses of remaining funds to develop or expand certain family and child service programs.

Repeals provisions for incentive payments to States which maintain a foster care inventory, information system, and case review system; but requires States to provide such protections and other services designed to keep families together or reunify them, or to place children for adoption, with a legal guardian, or in some other planned, permanent living arrangement.

Requires States to submit the following types of reports on child welfare services and expenditures: (1) pre-expenditure reports; (2) post-expenditure reports; and (3) comparative financial contributions reports. Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to transmit to specified congressional committees annual summaries of the information in such comparative financial contributions reports. Requires such information to be made available to the public.

Reserves entitlement funds for grants to State court systems to assess and improve procedures in child welfare cases in carrying out parts B and E (Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) of SSA title IV. Sets forth application requirements and formulas for determining the amount of such grants for FY 1994 through 1998. Directs the HHS Secretary to submit interim and final reports to the Congress on the information obtained from assessments conducted with such grants and the impact of such grant program on State court procedures and functions.

Requires each State to compile periodically a detailed directory of programs designed to keep families together or reunify them or place children permanently, identifying which of such programs provides specialized child welfare services to families in crisis due to substance abuse.

Requires States to report on measures taken to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Title II: Foster Care And Adoption Assistance - Amends SSA title IV to add a new part C, Comprehensive Service Projects to grant States flexibility and resources to develop comprehensive and coordinated services designed to: (1) preserve and strengthen families with children at risk of placement outside their homes; (2) reunite children with their families expeditiously if an out-of-home placement is found to be necessary; and (3) place children in adoptive homes or other permanent arrangements in a timely fashion if reunification with their families is not appropriate.

Permits any State to apply to the HHS Secretary for permission to: (1) conduct a comprehensive service project in a selected area or areas; and (2) suspend certain child welfare services and foster care and adoption assistance requirements with respect to State activities in such area or areas during the project. Sets forth application requirements and administrative provisions for such projects. Prohibits the HHS Secretary from requiring as a condition of approval of a project application: (1) the State to select any area or areas in which to conduct the project; or (2) the project to comply with any requirements not specified in the project authorization. Sets forth those requirements with which such a project must comply. Provides for determining the expenses for which a State might properly seek reimbursement, for purposes of calculating such grant amount. Authorizes the HHS Secretary to increase such grant amount, to the extent appropriate, by taking specified factors into account. Sets forth requirements for notification to States of grant amounts, and for grant payments in equal quarterly installments.

Prohibits a State from carrying out such a project in a manner that impairs the entitlement of any child to: (1) the foster care benefits he or she would have receive if the HHS Secretary had approved the State plan and had not authorized the State to conduct such a project; or (2) any other benefit to which the child is legally entitled. Deems a State to have in effect an approved foster care and adoption assistance plan during the period in which it conducts such a project for purposes of State plan requirements under part A (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) (AFDC) of SSA title IV.

Requires States to report annually on project funds expended to the HHS Secretary and the Advisory Commission on Children and Families.

Provides for administrative remedies for unsuccessful projects.

Provides for project termination.

Makes abandoned children entering foster care eligible for foster care maintenance payments. Makes the adoptive parents of any such child with respect to whom foster care maintenance payments may be made eligible for adoption assistance payments.

Makes technical revisions to the foster care maintenance payments program and the adoption assistance program to expand the removal from home requirement to include removal from legal custody. Provides for retroactive application of such new requirement under the adoption assistance program.

Makes children whose adoption has been set aside by a court eligible for foster care maintenance payments. Makes the adoptive parents of any such child with respect to whom foster care maintenance payments may be made eligible for adoption assistance payments.

Establishes a respite care program for foster parents with children who have special needs. Limits the expenses eligible for reimbursement under such program.

Expands the definition of children with special needs, for purposes of the adoption assistance program, to include: (1) those children for whom information is known and available about their genetic or social history indicating a high risk of medical conditions or physical, mental, or emotional handicaps which makes it reasonable to conclude that they cannot be placed for adoption without providing part E adoption assistance or Medicaid (SSA title XIX) medical assistance; and (2) those children that have been adopted, that were under the care and responsibility of the State agency responsible for administering the State's part E programs immediately before adoption, and that have a mental, physical, or emotional handicap that either existed before the adoption but was not diagnosed until afterwards, or first manifests itself after the adoption but is congenital or was caused beforehand. Extends to relatives (as well as foster parents) who are prospective adoptive parents, and with whom the child has significant emotional ties while in their care, the exception to the requirement that an effort be made to place special needs children with appropriate adoptive parents without providing adoption or Medicaid assistance. Requires each State to submit to the HHS Secretary the factors and conditions it uses to identify children with special needs for purposes of the adoption assistance program, and any modifications to such factors and conditions.

Directs the HHS Secretary to establish an Advisory Committee on Foster Care Placement to study and report to the Secretary and the Congress on the implementation of specified requirements, under State plans for foster care and adoption assistance, that reasonable efforts be made: (1) before placement of a child in a foster home, to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the child's home; and (2) to make it possible for the child to return to the child's home.

Provides Federal coverage of 90 percent of State costs in developing and installing certain statewide mechanized data collection and information retrieval systems. Covers 50 percent of State costs for operation of such systems. Provides that all State expenditures for development, installation, and operation of such systems shall be treated as necessary for proper and efficient administration of the State plan, without regard to whether the systems may be used with respect to foster or adoptive children other than those on behalf of whom payments may be made for foster care maintenance or adoption assistance. Reduces, after three years, from 90 to 50 percent the Federal matching payment for development and installation of such systems.

Defers a deadline for implementation of automated systems until one year after certain regulations are promulgated. Directs the Secretary to establish a work group to advise on planning and implementation of the system to be used for collection of data relating to adoption and foster care in the United States.

Requires the State plan to provide for: (1) a triennial review of the amounts paid as foster care maintenance payments and adoption assistance to assure their continuing appropriateness; and (2) a report to the HHS Secretary on the results.

Sets forth requirements concerning dispositional hearings to determine the final status of a foster child.

Revises the time frame for judicial determinations on voluntary placements.

Sets forth case plan requirements for placement of children in out-of-State foster care. Requires annual review, with the child present, of the status of children in out-of-State foster care placements. Requires States to collect data on the numbers of children in out-of-State foster care placements. Requires a State, in order to receive payments for expenditures after FY 1994 for foster care maintenance payments made with respect to children placed in foster care outside the State, to conduct and submit a study to the HHS Secretary, by the end of such fiscal year, identifying the number and common characteristics of such children and the reasons why they were not placed in foster care in the State.

Provides for the treatment of assets of youth participating in the independent living program.

Eliminates the ceilings on Federal foster care payments to States and the State's authority to transfer unused foster care funds to child welfare services programs.

Directs the HHS Secretary to: (1) establish an advisory committee; and (2) issue final regulations for training of staff of agencies responsible for administering foster care and adoption assistance programs, and for training of foster care and adoptive parents.

Directs the Secretary annually to publish information, on a State-by-State basis, on expenditures for, and the operation of, the Child Welfare Services program, the Foster Care and Adoption Assistance program, and Comprehensive Service Projects.

Amends SSA title IV to add a new part G, Child Welfare Review System. Directs the HHS Secretary to establish such system to: (1) review each State child welfare program to assess whether the requirements of the Act are being carried out; (2) impose financial penalties in cases of substantial failure to comply; and (3) provide technical assistance to any such program. Sets forth provisions relating to effects of noncompliance, suspension and rescission of financial penalties, and administrative and judicial review. Requires that all State child welfare programs be reviewed at least once by the end of FY 1997.

Prohibits the Secretary from reducing or withholding any payment, or seeking any repayment from any State under part B or E, by reason of a determination made in connection with specified reviews or audits for certain periods. Prohibits suspension of payments with respect to any claim for reimbursement 30 days after the HHS Secretary receives the quarterly statement of expenditures that contains the report of the claim. Provides that within ten months after the Secretary takes any action to suspend payment with respect to such a claim, the Secretary shall: (1) determine the allowability of the claim; or (2) if unable to make such a determination, make payment with respect to the claim, subject to a later determination of allowability.

Title III: Social Services Block Grant - Amends SSA title XX (Block Grants to States for Social Services) to authorize increased appropriations for title XX programs. Provides for the allocation to tribal organizations of program funds otherwise allotted to the State in which the Indians represented by such an organization reside.

Title IV: Research, Demonstration, and Evaluation Activities - Amends part A (General Provisions) of SSA title XI to require the Director of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) to establish an Advisory Commission on Children and Families. Requires the Commission to collect and assess specified types of information in order to identify cost-effective approaches to protect and enhance the physical, mental, emotional, and financial well-being of children and their families. Directs OTA to report annually to the Congress on the Commission and its assessment.

Requires the Commission to conduct, through contracts with independent research organizations, the following research and evaluation projects: (1) the evaluation of child welfare service programs, including intensive family preservation programs; (2) foster care evaluations; (3) longitudinal child welfare data bases, and studies of child welfare population dynamics; and (4) comprehensive service projects evaluations.

Requires the Commission to study child separation guidelines.

Directs the HHS Secretary to conduct the following research and evaluations: (1) a study (under contract with an independent research organization) to assess the prevalence and nature of risks to the safety of employees of child welfare systems; and (2) a three-year study (under contract with an organization with demonstrated appropriate experience) to examine methodologies for measuring the workloads of providers of child welfare services and community mental health services.

Directs the HHS Secretary to make grants to States or localities for child welfare demonstration projects concerning abandoned child permanent placement.

Directs the HHS Secretary to authorize eligible institutions to conduct demonstration projects to train eligible individuals to deliver culturally sensitive and bilingual child welfare services in U.S. areas that border on Mexico.

Directs the HHS Secretary to make grants to eligible institutions to conduct projects to train eligible institutions to deliver culturally sensitive and bilingual welfare services in urban centers which have a high proportion of historically unserved or underserved populations.

Authorizes the HHS Secretary to make grants to State or local government agencies to conduct demonstration projects designed to: (1) develop and implement innovative recruitment or retention strategies for trained staff in public and private nonprofit agencies working with children and adolescents at risk of being placed in foster care; and (2) test the effect of joint training programs for the staff of child welfare, mental health, and juvenile justice agencies, and for judicial personnel and judges.

Authorizes the HHS Secretary to conduct demonstration projects designed to test the feasibility of eliminating income and resource requirements respecting foster care and adoption assistance payments.

Directs the HHS Secretary to provide technical assistance to States for: (1) interpreting and implementing parts B, C, and E; (2) disseminating information on innovative child welfare agencies; (3) correcting problems identified through Federal audits and reviews and carrying out corrective action plans under part E; (4) implementing the foster care and adoption data collection system; and (5) addressing other matters identified by the HHS Secretary.

Title V: Miscellaneous Human Resources Amendments - Amends the AFDC program to give States the option of using retrospective budgeting without monthly reporting under AFDC. Increases the amount of stepparent income disregarded under AFDC.

Amends the Family Support Act of 1988 to extend demonstration projects for evaluating model procedures for reviewing child support awards.

Amends the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1989 and the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 to make technical corrections relating to human resource and income security provisions.

Title VI: Childhood Hunger Relief - Mickey Leland Childhood Hunger Relief Act - Subtitle A: Ensuring Adequate Food Assistance - Amends the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to remove the excess shelter deduction cap for purposes of food stamp program eligibility. (Sets forth transitional caps through 1996.)

Eliminates food stamp reductions for households reapplying for program reinstatement within 30 days.

Excludes 100 percent (currently only a specified portion) of third party payments for transitional housing for the homeless from consideration as program income.

Increases funding for the nutrition assistance program in Puerto Rico.

Excludes general assistance vendor payments from consideration as program income.

Excludes the income of high school students from consideration as program income. (Current law excludes income until a student's eighteenth birthday.)

Subtitle B: Promoting Self-Sufficiency - Excludes from consideration as program income: (1) the first $50 a month received as child support; and (2) child support payments to non-household members.

Increases annually the fair market value limit of vehicles that program recipients may own.

Subtitle C: Simplifying the Provision of Food Assistance - Permits related adults living in the same household to apply for separate program benefits under specified conditions.

Repeals provisions authorizing benefit reductions due to insufficient funding.

Subtitle D: Commodity Distribution to Needy Families - Amends the Emergency Food Assistance Act of 1983 to provide for increased allotments in FY 1993 for commodity purchases under the emergency food assistance program.

Subtitle E: Implementation and Effective Dates - Sets forth the effective dates for provisions of this title.

Title VII: Funding - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to impose a surtax on individuals with incomes over $1,000,000.