Formula Grants

Title IV-E – Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance


Title IV-E of the Social Security Act supports the Federal Foster Care Program, which helps provide out-of-home care for children until the children are safely returned home, placed permanently, or placed in other planned arrangements; and the Adoption Assistance Program, which provides funds to states to facilitate the timely placement of children


The Foster Care Program’s funding is awarded by formula as an open-end entitlement grant. To be eligible for Title IV-E Foster Care Program, children must be in out-of-home placements, be removed from families considered “needy” (based on measures from AFDC program), have entered care through judicial determination or voluntary placement, and be licenses or approved foster care placements.

Match Requirements

The Foster Care Program enables states to be generally reimbursed up to 50 percent for every qualifying dollar they spend and up to 75% for trainings. The Adoption Assistance Program provides federal matching funds of 50 to 83 percent, depending on the state’s per capita income.

Potential Uses

In December 2018, the Children’s Bureau revised the policy regarding independent legal representation. States can now claim federal matching funds through Title IV-E to help pay for costs of independent legal representation by an attorney for a child who is a candidate of IV-E foster care and the parent to prepare for and participate in foster care legal proceedings. The Child Welfare Policy Manual (CWPM) added language clarifying this change at Question 30:

“The statute at section 474(a)(3) of the Act and regulations at 45 CFR 1356.60(c) specify that Federal financial participation (FFP) is available at the rate of 50% for administrative expenditures necessary for the proper and efficient administration of the title IV-E plan. The title IV-E agency’s representation in judicial determinations continues to be an allowable administrative cost. … This policy is revised to allow the title IV-E agency to claim title IV-E administrative costs of independent legal representation by an attorney for a child who is a candidate for title IV-E foster care or in foster care and his/her parent to prepare for and participate in all stages of foster care legal proceedings, such as court hearings related to a child’s removal from the home.”


In a July 2020 Technical Bulletin, the Children’s Bureau clarified cost-sharing requirements for the non-federal share of program expenditures and the agencies with which states may form contracts to fulfill legal representation functions. Clarifications of special note include that private donations as well as state or local (non-federal) funds can be used as match, IV-E state agencies can contract directly with a legal aid program without the need for a public agency/court intermediary, and reimbursable administrative costs can include costs of paralegals, office support staff, social workers, and overhead. Specifically, see FAQs 4 and 5, and the Appendix


93.658 and 93.659

Administering Federal Agency

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children & Families (ACF), Children’s Bureau (CB)

Find Your State/Local Administrator

See the CB’s list of state child welfare agency directors.

Amount of Available Funding

Title IV-E is a federal-state matching grant program under which states must spend money in order to receive federal funding. States are generally reimbursed up to 50 percent for every dollar they spend. This reimbursement requirement is “open ended,” in that there is no upper limit or ceiling on the federal government’s match of those expenditures. States will sometimes publish their budget requests online, but if it not available or is outdated, you can contact your state administrator.

More Information

To find examples of courts and/or their justice partners receiving these funds, click on the PDF.

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