STATE OF WISCONSIN
Over the past several years, the Division of Children and Family Services has worked diligently with the county and tribal human/social services agencies to implement and maintain effective Kinship Care (KC) programs. We have made great progress and have experienced many challenges. Many issues have impacted the administration of this program, including budget allocations, data collection and the finalizing of the Kinship Care rule, HFS 58. As a result of all of our efforts, we now have approximately 8200 children eligible for and receiving Kinship Care benefits.
Several issues regarding Kinship Care have come to our attention from state, local and federal sources. These issues are varied and may impact different levels of Kinship Care programs, including services, budgets, data reporting and worker responsibilities. This correspondence is to provide you with all of this information in one document so that efforts can be made to address these issues as needed.
Complete, accurate Kinship Care data is needed to meet federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) reporting requirements. Incomplete and/or invalid data may result in penalties to the State and, consequently, to the local agencies.
All KC data for the preceding month must be entered into the web Kinship Care Tracking System (KCTS) or WiSACWIS reporting systems with sign off by the 10th of each month.
Social security numbers for children receiving KC are required for TANF reporting and are used to match children with Medicaid records. Without this match, it appears that TANF recipients have lower participation in Medicaid when compared to almost all other states, which negatively impacts high performance bonus awards to Wisconsin.
Ethnicity/race codes are needed for TANF reporting. Missing codes result in data warning reports issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Only applicants, not current recipients of KC benefits, may be placed on waiting lists. A recent Division of Hearings and Appeals decision (KIN-37/52107) found that a county's decision to remove a recipient from payment status and place him/her on a waiting list due to local KC funding constraints is not allowed. The recipient was returned to payment status with payment retroactive to the date of the removal. It was previously assumed that this method could be used as one means for ensuring sufficient funding throughout the year to meet mandated KC payments to eligible court ordered cases. However, this decision concludes that terminating a current eligible recipient's KC and placing him/her on a waiting list is not allowed.
Permanency plans are now required for all court ordered Kinship Care placements. The permanency planning requirements and time frames under s. 48.38 and 938.38, Stats., apply to court ordered KC and must be fully implemented. (See DCFS Memo Series 2002-10.)
County and tribal funded KC cases will be reimbursed at end-of-year using KC benefit funds that were not expended during the calendar year. The previous system for deobligating and reobligating Kinship Care benefit funds between county and tribal agencies prior to year's end has been discontinued. Web KCTS and WiSACWIS data will be utilized to determine the amount of funds needed for reimbursement of county/tribal funded cases to each local agency. If it is anticipated that there are additional funds available after county funded cases have been reimbursed, agencies may be contacted to determine if a limited provision of available funds can be effectively utilized to add and sustain additional KC cases into the next calendar year.
Thank you for your continued efforts to provide Wisconsin children and families with Kinship Care payments and support.