Child welfare financing
Child welfare systems rely on a variety of federal, state, and local funding sources to keep children safe, strengthen families, and support communities. Each jurisdiction combines funding sources in different ways to administer programs and services. Some funding streams, such as Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) are dedicated solely to child welfare while others, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid, can be used to fund a broad range of services and supports for families across the child and family well-being continuum.
With each funding stream comes a unique set of goals, allowable uses, eligibility rules, and reporting requirements. This leads to a complex funding environment that is challenging to operationalize and contributes to variation in services and delivery approaches across jurisdictions.
Though states continue to spend a relatively small proportion of funding on upstream prevention services, growing emphasis on systems transformation and the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act have the potential to shift child welfare funding in that direction going forward. For more information about how funds are used across states, see the Child Trends Child Welfare Financing Survey.