Issue: Court Improvement Programs Reauthorization
These formula grants assist state courts to improve the court’s oversight of child welfare cases.
State court leaders support full funding for the three CIP grant programs. (CCJ Resolution 17-M-1 and COSCA Resolution 17-B-1)
As part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (P.L.-109-171), Congress authorized two new child welfare-related CIP grants – a grant to assist state courts with training and education and a grant to assist state courts with data collection and automation. The authorization was for $10 million per year for each new grant program. The highest judicial officer in each state, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico can apply for the grants. The funds are distributed based on the same formula as the original “basic” CIP grant.
On 6/16/11, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing to address the reauthorization of funding for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF). Federal law requires that some of PSSF’s funding be set-aside for state courts for the CIP grants. Written testimony was submitted on behalf of CCJ and the COSCA.
A House bill (HR 2790) was introduced on 8/2/11 to reauthorize the three CIP grant programs at $20 million. State court leaders advocated for restoration of the additional $10 million. A bi-partisan, bi-cameral agreement was reached to reauthorize the three CIP grants at $30 million through FY 2016. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (H.R. 2883/S. 1542) was introduced on 9/12/11. On 9/30/11, President Obama signed the legislation making it Public Law 112-34. The legislation reauthorized the three CIP grant programs through FY 2016 at the $30 million level. A $1 million set aside was created within the funds for a competitive tribal court grant program. As such, $29 million will be available for distribution to state courts annually. (State courts will continue to receive 3.3% of any PSSF discretionary dollars that Congress appropriates.)
The authorization for the PSSF grant program, including the CIP grants, expired on 9/30/16. On 6/13/16, then House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (H.R. 5456), which included the needed CIP reauthorizations. The House Ways and Means Committee approved H.R. 5456 (FFPSA) by voice vote on 6/15/16. On 6/21/16, the House passed H.R. 5456 by unanimous consent. The Senate companion bill, S. 3065 was introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). Letters of support were sent to members of both Committee by CCJ and COSCA and individual members.
FFPSA stalled in the Senate. Three Senators had holds on the bill – Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Michael Enzi (R-WY) because of concerns related to the financial impact of the legislation and time needed to comply with the new requirements. The 114th Congress adjourned before problems with H.R. 5456 could be worked out, so the legislation died. Congress did pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through 4/28/17. This CR only allowed for the release of $10M for the basic CIP grant because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) FY 2017 baseline budget, upon which the CR was based, did not include the data and training CIP grants.
Representative Vern Buchannan (R-FL) re-introduced FFPSA (H.R. 253) on 1/4/17. The text of H.R. 253 is the same as last year’s H.R. 5456. While the bill has been re-introduced, there is no plan for House action on the bill until the Senate acts. Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE) has replaced Representative Buchannan as the chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) is the new Ranking Member for this subcommittee.
The President’s FY 2018 budget request included full funding at $30M for the 3 grants. In May 2017, Congress approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 115-31), which included language funding the data and training CIP grants for FY 2017.
Under the House and Senate FY 2018 appropriation bills, $10M is included for the basic CIP grant, but not funding for the CIP data and training grants ($20M). Efforts continue to find a vehicle for reauthorization for all 3 grants and full funding at $30M. Language has been agreed upon that resolves the CBO interpretation problem.
In December 2017, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the COURTS Act (H.R. 4461/S. 2173) to reauthorize all 3 CIP grants for 5 years as mandatory funding. The plan is to try to attach the bill to a moving piece of legislation.