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HHS/ACF RIN: 0970-AC89 Publication ID: Fall 2022 
Title: Foster Care Legal Representation 

This regulation proposes to allow a title IV-E agency to claim Federal financial participation for the administrative cost of providing independent legal representation to a child who is either a candidate for foster care or in foster care, and his/her parent to prepare for and participate in judicial determinations in foster care and other related civil legal proceedings.

Agency: Department of Health and Human Services(HHS)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 45 CFR 1356.60(c)   
Legal Authority: sec. 474(a)(3) of the Social Security Act    sec. 1102 of the Social Security Act   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

Allowing title IV-E agencies to claim Federal reimbursement for independent legal representation in legal proceedings that are necessary to carry out the requirements in the agency’s title IV-E plan, including civil proceedings, may help prevent the need to remove a child from the home or, for a child in foster care, achieve permanency faster. Research demonstrates that some of the circumstances bringing families into contact with the child welfare system (poverty, educational neglect, inadequate housing, failure to provide adequate nutrition, and failure to safeguard mental health due to domestic violence) can be addressed before a child enters foster care by providing legal representation early in foster care legal proceedings and in civil legal matters. When children are removed from the home, studies show having access to legal representation for civil legal issues earlier in a case can improve the rate of reunification, nearly double the speed to legal guardianship or adoption, and result in more permanent outcomes for children and families.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

Section 474(a)(3) of the Act authorizes Federal reimbursement for title IV-E administrative costs, which are defined as costs found necessary by the Secretary for the provision of child placement services and for the proper and efficient administration of the State [title IV-E] plan. Section 1102 of the Act authorizes the Secretary to publish regulations, not inconsistent with the Act, as may be necessary for the efficient administration of the functions with which the Secretary is responsible under the Act.


If this NPRM is not published, agencies may only continue to claim FFP for administrative costs of independent legal representation provided by attorneys representing children in title IV-E foster care, children who are candidates for title IV-E foster care, and the child’s parents in all stages of foster care legal proceedings, but not in other civil proceedings (See Child Welfare Policy Manual (CWPM) 8.1B #30, 31 and 32).

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

This final rule impacts state and tribal title IV-E (child welfare) agencies. ACF estimates that the proposed regulatory change would cost the federal government $2,731 billion in FFP over 10 years. This proposal does not impose a burden or cost on the title IV-E agency. The title IV-E agency has discretion to provide allowable independent legal representation to families.



Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  01/00/2023 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Kathleen McHugh
Director, Division of Policy, Children's Bureau, ACYF/ACF/HHS
Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Room 2411, 330 C Street SW, Room 3411,
Washington, DC 20201
Phone:202 401-5789
Fax:202 205-8221