Into the Sunset: The Success of the California Well-Being (Title IV-E Waiver) Project

On October 30, 2019, the California Department of Social Services alongside Casey Family Programs and UC Davis Human Services’ Northern Academy hosted an End of Title IV-E Waiver Celebration for all wavier counties, which highlighted all the phenomenal work provided to the children and families served during the California Well-Being Project.

Overview of the Project

The California Well-Being Project (also known as the Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Project, or just “the Project”) authorized the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to grant waivers to states allowing for the flexible use of Title IV-E funds, previously restricted to payment for foster care room and board and administrative costs. The Project began in California on July 1, 2007, with Alameda and Los Angeles Counties. On September 29, 2014, the federal government approved a five-year extension and expansion of the Project that allowed more counties to participate. Seven additional counites opted into the extension of the waiver including: Butte, Lake, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Sonoma. The Project allowed counties to provide the flexibility to invest existing resources more effectively in proven and innovative approaches that better ensure the safety of children and the success of families.

The Project’s goals sought to improve the array of services and supports available to children and families involved in the child welfare and juvenile probation systems, engage families, increase youth safety, improve permanency and family well-being, and decrease recidivism and delinquency for youth on probation. The Project sunset was September 30, 2019.

California was unique in its approach, as the only state that included juvenile probation partners in the participation of the Waiver.  California’s juvenile probation departments adapted the state’s Wraparound model as their core service intervention.  Probation youth exhibiting delinquency risk factors that put them at risk of entering foster care were able to receive Wraparound services. California juvenile probation departments reported that they enjoyed working closely with their local child welfare and behavioral health agencies to ensure families were receiving the services they needed.

Project Accomplishments and Evaluation

Here are a few county accomplishments that were highlighted at the event:

  • Alameda County: The juvenile probation department saw higher percentages of no new sustained offenses after the release date from the program throughout the duration of the Waiver.
  • Los Angeles County: The juvenile hall population declined by 69.8% under the Waiver.
  • Sacramento County: Youth and families experienced an increase in protective factors, that supported stabilization.
  • San Diego County: The juvenile probation department embraced the concepts and goals of CCR, including family voice and choice, engagement, and rehabilitating youth.
  • San Francisco County: A Wraparound provider onsite allowed for closer integration, collaboration and enhanced communication.
  • Santa Clara County: Provided intensive services for probation youth.
  • Sonoma County: Was able to link youth to community-based prosocial activities.

The National Council on Crime and Delinquency contracted with CDSS to develop a project evaluation that explores whether and how the Project’s funding flexibility affected juvenile probation systems and measures the Project’s success in meeting its stated goals and outcomes. From preliminary outcomes of Wraparound in the Project, the importance of implementing and operating a Wrapround program with a large degree of fidelity and rigorous evaluation proved vitally important to see successes and positive outcomes. The Early Practice Interventions for Children and Families Unit (EPIC), formerly known as the Title IV-E Waiver unit is committed to supporting high-fidelity Wraparound in California to do whatever it takes to address mental health issues, stabilize maladaptive family and relational dynamics, promote well-being, and work through barriers to permanency for our children, youth and families.