Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert and U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today announced a waiver, required by a law drafted by Hatch, granting the state of Utah the ability to use federal foster care funds to find innovative strategies to cut costs and improve outcomes for children in the child welfare system. Hatch, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the legislation last year with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
"The bipartisan bill enacted last year will give Utah much greater flexibility and opportunities to assist those truly in need, and will go a long way toward reducing the amount of Utah children and youth entering foster care," Hatch said. "This is an example of how waivers like this should be enacted -- through Congress and not by a White House fiat. This is a big step forward to allowing the hardworking men and women at Utah's Department of Human Services and across the state to provide more of the resources they need to improve the lives of Utahns."
"Safe children and families are a priority in Utah. This waiver allows us to provide Utah solutions to Utah problems by meeting specific safety and protective needs for children and families, together, in their homes," said Governor Gary R. Herbert.
In accordance with the Hatch-Baucus legislation, states that apply for a waiver to use federal foster care funds would have to design a program that meets one of three goals for the children that these innovative programs would serve. The first goal set is to increase permanency for children and promote the successful transition to adulthood; the second is to increase efforts to better serve children and families being served in-home or in placement by improving safety; and the third is to prevent abuse and neglect and the re-entry of children into foster care with a special focus on the services provided in-home and in communities.
States would also have to meet goals to help and protect children already in the system. For example, these goals could be to promote educational stability for children in foster care by keeping them in the same school, to substantially increase the number of siblings placed together in care or to assist youth as they prepare for transition out of the foster care system.