This memo provides instructions for counties to receive federal IV-E reimbursement for child welfare legal services. Counties may apply using the plan format provided with the memo to begin receiving funds in CY 2003. Applications must include agreements between the child welfare agency and the legal office.
The Division is pleased to announce the availability of federal Title IV-E funding to county human/social services departments to support legal services for child welfare programs. Under the legal services reimbursement program, federal IV-E funds will be provided on a pass-through basis to counties to support attorneys, paralegals, clerical and other legal staff who are dedicated to working on IV-E related child welfare legal activities. The attached program description provides information on the legal services reimbursement program and instructions for counties to apply to participate in the program.
To participate in the legal services reimbursement program, county human/social services departments must have agreements with the district attorney or corporation counsel office that provides legal services for child welfare actions under Chapter 48. The IV-E reimbursement will be provided through the human/social service department and the agreement is necessary for IV-E funds to be used by the local legal office for legal services expenses. The IV-E funds must be used to improve legal services for child welfare cases, including increasing legal staff time and other actions that will improve legal support for adoption and other program activities to improve safety and permanency for children. The county department must determine with their local legal office how the IV-E funds will be used and identify appropriate sources of match funds. The IV-E funds received by counties must be used to expand child welfare legal services or other child welfare program activities and cannot be used to supplant existing county expenditures.
The District Attorney or Corporation Counsel is responsible for obtaining any additional position authority associated with the legal services reimbursement program. District Attorney offices should work with the State Prosecutors Office in the Department of Administration regarding their participation in the legal services reimbursement program. The notification process under s. 48.09, Stats., must be used for any changes in the scope of District Attorney responsibilities for child welfare cases.
Counties starting new legal service reimbursement programs can apply to participate in the IV-E pass-through program beginning with calendar year (CY) 2003. Applications can be submitted at any time, with the effective date of the contract being January 1, 2003; however, no IV-E reimbursement is allowed until an agreement is in place. Contracts will be issued to county departments, who can subcontract as necessary with their local legal offices. For calendar year 2003, the net IV-E reimbursement rate for legal services is 33%. The IV-E reimbursement rate could change in subsequent years depending on statewide trends in the IV-E eligibility of children in out-of-home care and federal IV-E fiscal policy.
The county application for the legal services reimbursement program must include a proposed budget for the legal services program, a description of the planned activities, and a copy of the agreement between the human/social services department and the local legal office on how child welfare legal services will be handled. Applications and questions about the legal services reimbursement program should be submitted to the DCFS Bureau of Programs and Policies. A copy of the application should be submitted to the Area Administrator in the Office of Strategic Finance.