45 CFR 1356.71 - Federal review of the eligibility of children in foster care and the eligibility of foster care providers in title IV-E programs.

§ 1356.71 Federal review of the eligibility of children in foster care and the eligibility of foster care providers in title IV-E programs.
(a) Purpose, scope and overview of the process.
(1) This section sets forth requirements governing Federal reviews of compliance with the title IV-E eligibility provisions as they apply to children and foster care providers under paragraphs (a) and (b) of section 472 of the Act.
(2) The requirements of this section apply to title IV-E agencies that receive Federal payments for foster care under title IV-E of the Act.
(3) The review process begins with a primary review of foster care cases for the title IV-E eligibility requirements.
(i) Title IV-E agencies in substantial compliance. Title IV-E agencies determined to be in substantial compliance based on the primary review will be subject to another review in three years.
(ii) Title IV-E agencies not in substantial compliance. Title IV-E agencies that are determined not to be in substantial compliance based on the primary review will develop and implement a program improvement plan designed to correct the areas of noncompliance. A secondary review will be conducted after the completion of the program improvement plan. A subsequent primary review will be held three years from the date of the secondary review.
(b) Composition of review team and preliminary activities preceding an on-site review. (1) The review team must be composed of representatives of the title IV-E agency, and ACF's Regional and Central Offices.
(2) The title IV-E agency must provide ACF with the complete payment history for each of the sample and oversample cases prior to the on-site review.
(c) Sampling guidance and conduct of review.
(1) The list of sampling units in the target population (i.e., the sampling frame) will be drawn by ACF statistical staff from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data which are transmitted by the title IV-E agency to ACF. The sampling frame will consist of cases of children who were eligible for foster care maintenance payments during the reporting period reflected in a title IV-E agency's most recent AFCARS data submission. For the initial primary review, if these data are not available or are deficient, an alternative sampling frame, consistent with one AFCARS six-month reporting period, will be selected by ACF in conjunction with the title IV-E agency.
(2) A sample of 80 cases (plus a 10 percent oversample of eight cases) from the title IV-E foster care program will be selected for the primary review utilizing probability sampling methodologies. Usually, the chosen methodology will be simple random sampling, but other probability samples may be utilized, when necessary and appropriate.
(3) Cases from the oversample will be substituted and reviewed for each of the original sample of 80 cases which is found to be in error.
(4) At the completion of the primary review, the review team will determine the number of ineligible cases. When the total number of ineligible cases does not exceed eight, ACF can conclude with a probability of 88 percent that in a population of 1000 or more cases the population ineligibility case error rate is less than 15 percent and the title IV-E agency will be considered in substantial compliance.For primary reviews held subsequent to the initial primary reviews, the acceptable population ineligibility case error rate threshold will be reduced from less than 15 percent (eight or fewer ineligible cases) to less than 10 percent (four or fewer ineligible cases)). A title IV-E agency which meets this standard is considered to be in “substantial compliance” (see paragraph (h) of this section). A disallowance will be assessed for the ineligible cases for the period of time the cases are ineligible.
(5) A title IV-E agency which has been determined to be in “noncompliance” (i.e., not in substantial compliance) will be required to develop a program improvement plan according to the specifications discussed in paragraph (i) of this section, as well as undergo a secondary review. For the secondary review, a sample of 150 cases (plus a 10 percent oversample of 15 cases) will be drawn from the most recent AFCARS submission. Usually, the chosen methodology will be simple random sampling, but other probability samples may be utilized, when necessary and appropriate. Cases from the oversample will be substituted and reviewed for each of the original sample of 150 cases which is found to be in error.
(6) At the completion of the secondary review, the review team will calculate both the sample case ineligibility and dollar error rates for the cases determined ineligible during the review. An extrapolated disallowance equal to the lower limit of a 90 percent confidence interval for the population total dollars in error for the amount of time corresponding to the AFCARS reporting period will be assessed if both the child/provider (case) ineligibility and dollar error rates exceed 10 percent. If neither, or only one, of the error rates exceeds 10 percent, a disallowance will be assessed for the ineligible cases for the period of time the cases are ineligible.
(d) Requirements subject to review. Title IV-E agencies will be reviewed against the requirements of title IV-E of the Act regarding:
(1) The eligibility of the children on whose behalf the foster care maintenance payments are made (section 472(a)(1)-(4) of the Act) to include:
(i) Judicial determinations regarding “reasonable efforts” and “contrary to the welfare” in accordance with § 1356.21(b) and (c), respectively;
(ii) Voluntary placement agreements in accordance with § 1356.22;
(iii) Responsibility for placement and care vested with the title IV-E or other public agency per section 472(a)(2)(B) of the Act;
(iv) Placement in a licensed foster family home or child care institution; and,
(v) Eligibility for AFDC under such State plan as it was in effect on July 16, 1996 per section 472(a)(3) or 479B(c)(1)(C)(ii)(II) of the Act, as appropriate.
(2) Allowable payments made to foster care providers who comport with sections 471(a)(10), 471(a)(20), 472(b) and (c), and 479B(c)(2) of the Act and § 1356.30.
(e) Review instrument. A title IV-E foster care eligibility review checklist will be used when conducting the eligibility review.
(f) Eligibility determination—child. The case record of the child must contain sufficient documentation to verify a child's eligibility in accordance with paragraph (d)(1) of this section, in order to substantiate payments made on the child's behalf.
(g) Eligibility determination—provider.
(1) For each case being reviewed, the title IV-E agency must make available a licensing file which contains the licensing history, including a copy of the certificate of licensure/approval or letter of approval, for each of the providers in the following categories:
(i) Public child care institutions with 25 children or less in residence;
(ii) Private child care institutions;
(iii) Group homes; and
(iv) Foster family homes, including relative homes.
(2) The licensing file must contain documentation that the title IV-E agency has complied with the safety requirements for foster and adoptive placements in accordance with § 1356.30.
(3) If the licensing file does not contain sufficient information to support a child's placement in a licensed facility, the title IV-E agency may provide supplemental information from other sources (e.g., a computerized database).
(h) Standards of compliance.
(1) Disallowances will be taken, and plans for program improvement required, based on the extent to which a title IV-E agency is not in substantial compliance with recipient or provider eligibility provisions of title IV-E, or applicable regulations in 45 CFR parts 1355 and 1356.
(2) Substantial compliance and noncompliance are defined as follows:
(i) Substantial compliance— For the primary review (of the sample of 80 cases), no more than eight of the title IV-E cases reviewed may be determined to be ineligible. (This critical number of allowable “errors,” i.e., ineligible cases, is reduced to four errors or less in primary reviews held subsequent to the initial primary review). For the secondary review (if required), substantial compliance means either the case ineligibility or dollar error rate does not exceed 10 percent.
(ii) Noncompliance— means not in substantial compliance. For the primary review (of the sample of 80 cases), nine or more of the title IV-E cases reviewed must be determined to be ineligible. (This critical number of allowable “errors,” i.e., ineligible cases, is reduced to five or more in primary reviews subsequent to the initial primary review). For the secondary review (if required), noncompliance means both the case ineligibility and dollar error rates exceed 10 percent.
(3) ACF will notify the title IV-E agency in writing within 30 calendar days after the completion of the review of whether the title IV-E agency is, or is not, operating in substantial compliance.
(4) Title IV-E agencies which are determined to be in substantial compliance must undergo a subsequent review after a minimum of three years.
(i) Program improvement plans.
(1) Title IV-E agencies which are determined to be in noncompliance with recipient or provider eligibility provisions of title IV-E, or applicable regulations in 45 CFR Parts 1355 and 1356, will develop a program improvement plan designed to correct the areas determined not to be in substantial compliance. The program improvement plan will:
(i) Be developed jointly by title IV-E agency and Federal staff;
(ii) Identify the areas in which the title IV-E agency's program is not in substantial compliance;
(iii) Not extend beyond one year. A title IV-E agency will have a maximum of one year in which to implement and complete the provisions of the program improvement plan unless State/Tribal legislative action is required. In such instances, an extension may be granted with the title IV-E agency and ACF negotiating the terms and length of such extension that shall not exceed the last day of the first legislative session after the date of the program improvement plan; and
(iv) Include:
(A) Specific goals;
(B) The action steps required to correct each identified weakness or deficiency; and,
(C) a date by which each of the action steps is to be completed.
(2) Title IV-E agencies determined not to be in substantial compliance as a result of a primary review must submit the program improvement plan to ACF for approval within 90 calendar days from the date the title IV-E agency receives written notification that it is not in substantial compliance. This deadline may be extended an additional 30 calendar days when a title IV-E agency submits additional documentation to ACF in support of cases determined to be ineligible as a result of the on-site eligibility review.
(3) The ACF Regional Office will intermittently review, in conjunction with the title IV-E agency, the title IV-E agency's progress in completing the prescribed action steps in the program improvement plan.
(4) If a title IV-E agency does not submit an approvable program improvement plan in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (i)(1) and (2) of this section, ACF will move to a secondary review in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section.
(j) Disallowance of funds. The amount of funds to be disallowed will be determined by the extent to which a title IV-E agency is not in substantial compliance with recipient or provider eligibility provisions of title IV-E, or applicable regulations in 45 CFR parts 1355 and 1356.
(1) Title IV-E agencies which are found to be in substantial compliance during the primary or secondary review will have disallowances (if any) determined on the basis of individual cases reviewed and found to be in error. The amount of disallowance will be computed on the basis of payments associated with ineligible cases for the entire period of time that each case has been ineligible.
(2) Title IV-E agencies which are found to be in noncompliance during the primary review will have disallowances determined on the basis of individual cases reviewed and found to be in error, and must implement a program improvement plan in accordance with the provisions contained within it. A secondary review will be conducted no later than during the AFCARS reporting period which immediately follows the program improvement plan completion date on a sample of 150 cases drawn from the title IV-E agency's most recent AFCARS data. If both the case ineligibility and dollar error rates exceed 10 percent, the title IV-E agency is not in compliance and an additional disallowance will be determined based on extrapolation from the sample to the universe of claims paid for the duration of the AFCARS reporting period (i.e., all title IV-E funds expended for a case during the quarter(s) that case is ineligible, including administrative costs). If either the case ineligibility or dollar rate does not exceed 10 percent, the amount of disallowance will be computed on the basis of payments associated with ineligible cases for the entire period of time the case has been determined to be ineligible.
(3) The title IV-E agency will be liable for interest on the amount of funds disallowed by the Department, in accordance with the provisions of 45 CFR 30.18.
(4) Title IV-E agencies may appeal any disallowance actions taken by ACF to the HHS Departmental Appeals Board in accordance with regulations at 45 CFR part 16.
[65 FR 4091, Jan. 25, 2000, as amended at 66 FR 58677, Nov. 23, 2001; 77 FR 951, Jan. 6, 2012]

Title 45 published on 2013-10-01

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