State Court Improvement Program

To assist State courts in performing their role in the continuum of care provided for families and children at risk.

It provides State courts with the flexibility to design assessments which identify barriers to timely and effective decision-making, highlight practices which are not fully successful,
examine areas they find to be in need of correction or added attention, and then implement reforms which address the State courts specific needs.

Two new objectives added in 2005 focus on court-agency collaboration and, direct courts to improve case tracking and analysis and 2) increase training of court personnel, including cross-training with agency staff.

In 2006 an objective was added to require assessment and improvement of State courts handling of the interstate placement of children.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Office - Please contact the ACF branch of the appropriate Regional Office.

(See Appendix IV of the Catalog.)

Program Accomplishments

There were 50 basic CIP grants awarded in fiscal year 2007. It is estimated that 51 grants will be awarded in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Grants under the State Court Improvement Program may be used for assessment and improvement activities, broadly defined, of the child welfare functions of a court system; for improved case tracking and analysis of child welfare cases; and for training of legal and judicial personnel in child welfare cases, including cross-training with child welfare agency staff and contractors.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

The highest State courts in each of the 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are eligible to apply for funding.

The term "highest State court" means the judicial tribunal which is the ultimate court of appeals in the State.

Beneficiary Eligibility

The State courts are eligible.


All State courts which submit applications as per instructions released by the Children's Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF) are eligible to receive Court Improvement Program grant funds.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Instructions can be obtained from the Children's Bureau, ACYF and the appropriate HHS Regional Offices.

Award Procedures

Awards to approved applicants will be made from the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Administration, Office of Grants Management.




Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, Section 13712, Public Law 103-66; Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Section 7401, Public Law 109-171; The Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006, Section 9, Public law 109-239; The Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006, Section 3, Public Law 109-288.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Federal approval time will be between 30 and 120 days.


Appeals are processed in accordance with HHS Departmental regulations at 45 CFR Part 16.


Applications for fiscal year 2007, fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2009 funds will be requested and accepted based on guidance to State courts by the Children's Bureau.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Each State court with an approved application is allotted $85,000 for fiscal year 2007-20011. In addition to this base amount, the remainder of the amount appropriated for all State courts ($12,080,287 for fiscal year 2008) will be divided among those courts with approved applications according to each State's proportionate share of children under the age of 21. If any State courts do not apply for their share of these funds, the unclaimed amount will be reallocated each year to all other State courts with approved applications. Nonfederal share (or match) is required at the rate of 25 percent of the total budget. The same formula and match requirements apply to funds appropriated for the two new purposes for fiscal years 2006 through 2010 ($20,000,000).

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

The U.S. Treasury will provide funds for this program.

Post Assistance Requirements


Both fiscal and program reports are required annually and are due 90 days after the close of the grant year.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133, "Audits of State, local governments, and nonprofit organizations" State and local governments that expend more than $500,000 in Federal awards within the State's fiscal year shall have an audit made in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-133, or in accordance with Federal laws and regulations governing the programs in which they participate. Other audits are conducted in accordance with the requirements of 45 CFR Part 92.


Records must be retained at least 3 years. Records shall be retained beyond the 3-year period if audit findings have not been resolved.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $32,940,300; FY 08 $32,089,272; and FY 09 est $32,089,272.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$97,664 TO $1,201,407; $248,852.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

ACYF-PI-94-12 issued June 27, 1994,ACYF-CB-PI-99-02 issued February 23,1999, Letter of April 24, 2002 from ACYF Commissioner Joan Ohl to the Highest State Courts of Appeal,ACYF-CB-PI-03-04 issued March 28, 2003, and ACYF-CB-PI-06-05 issued June 15, 2006, and ACYF-CB-PI-07-09 issued June 4,2007. The Court Improvement Program is not regulated. Literature about court assessments and improvements can be found by contacting the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Legal and Judicial Issues at 800-285-2221.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Please contact the ACF branch of the appropriate Regional Office. (See Appendix IV of the Catalog.)

Headquarters Office

Emily Cooke, Children's Bureau, 1250 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20024. Telephone: (202) 205-8709.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

None. This is a formula grant program which does not receive discretionary grant proposals.

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