[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 3 (Thursday, January 5, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 467-468]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33336]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Administration for Children and Families

45 CFR Part 1355


Notice of Tribal Consultation Meetings Regarding How the Current 
SACWIS Regulations Affect Tribes Administering a Title IV-E Program

AGENCY: Children's Bureau, ACYF, ACF, HHS.

ACTION: Notice of Tribal Consultation.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Title IV-E rules provide Federal Financial Participation (FFP) 
through a beneficial cost allocation methodology if a State or Tribe 
implements a comprehensive Statewide Automated Child Welfare 
Information System (SACWIS) to track and manage child protection, 
foster care and adoption assistance activities. With the continuing 
implementation of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing 
Adoptions Act of 2008 (Pub. L. 110-351) we wish to analyze the impact 
of the State-centric SACWIS rules on Tribes and Tribal child welfare 
agencies, to determine if Tribes have sufficient flexibility and 
latitude to build information systems that will meet their business 
needs.
    The Children's Bureau's (CB) Division of State Systems (DSS) has 
been assigned responsibility to undertake consultation with Tribes in 
this area. To offer Tribes the opportunity for informed comment on the 
implications that the State-centric rules have on their ability to 
build and operate information systems that will support their title IV-
E programs, we will provide an education session on the SACWIS 
regulations. This will be followed by a consultation to listen to the 
concerns and ideas from Tribal leaders and their representatives about 
the existing SACWIS rules and how CB can support title IV-E Tribal 
agencies in building information systems that will meet their business 
needs. We propose two such combined meetings via teleconferences to 
reach a broad audience of interested parties. The teleconference on 
February 15, 2012, is intended for consultation with Tribal leaders; 
the teleconference on February 16, 2012, is intended to engage in 
consultation with their representatives.

DATES: The meeting dates and times for teleconferences are:
     February 15, from 1-3 p.m. EST.
     February 16, from 3-5 p.m. EST.
    Access information for these teleconferences is in the 
Supplementary Information section.
    Written comments must be submitted to the office listed in the 
ADDRESSES section below on or before April 6, 2012.

ADDRESSES: You may submit written comments about this topic by any of 
the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Email: DSSComments@acf.hhs.gov. Please include ``Comments 
on Tribal Consultation'' in the subject line of the message.
     Mail or Courier Delivery: Terry Watt, Director, Division 
of State Systems, Children's Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth 
and Families, Administration for Children and Families, 1250 Maryland 
Avenue SW., 8th Floor, Washington, DC 20024.
    If you choose to use an express, overnight, or other special 
delivery method, please verify first that they are able to deliver to 
the above address during the normal workweek. We encourage you to 
submit comments electronically so that they are received in a timely 
manner. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov including any personal information provided. 
Written comments and comments provided during consultation will receive 
equal consideration by CB.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about this 
process, or want further information about current Federal regulations 
governing child welfare automation, please contact Mr. Peter Howe, John 
F. Kennedy Federal Building, Room 2000 West, 15 New Sudbury Street, 
Boston, MA 02203; voice: (617) 565-1515; by email at: 
peter.howe@acf.hhs.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Teleconferences: The teleconference on February 15, 2012 at 1 p.m. 
EST is reserved for Tribal leaders; the teleconference on February 16, 
2012 at 3 p.m. EST is intended for their representatives. Access 
information for these teleconferences is as follows:

February 15 call in: (888) 989-8183;
Password: 368-9268.
February 16 call in: (888) 673-9785;
Password: 621-8061.

    The teleconferences will be recorded, and a summary of the content 
will be published within 45 days of the February 16, 2012 call.
    SACWIS Background: Sections 474(a)(3)(C) and (D) of the Social 
Security Act (the Act) provide States,

[[Page 468]]

and now Tribes, with the opportunity to access additional funding 
through title IV-E to plan, design, develop, implement, and operate a 
SACWIS. The regulations at 45 CFR 1355.50-1355.57 were established in 
response to implementing legislation and were issued on December 22, 
1993, and did not consider the program needs of Tribal title IV-E 
agencies.
    SACWIS systems are described in detail in program instructions 
issued by CB. A general program description, and links to statutes, 
regulations, and other program guidance related to SACWIS can be found 
at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/systems/sacwis/federal.htm. Two 
Action Transmittals that can be found there are of particular interest 
in understanding SACWIS rules. They are:
     ACF-OISM-001, issued on February 24, 1995, provided the 
CB's initial guidance and policy on SACWIS planning, designing, 
development and implementation.
     ACF-OSS-05, issued on August 21, 1998, provides additional 
guidance on the implementation and operation of a SACWIS, and 
supersedes some sections of AT-ACF-OISM-001.
    Program Instructions (PI) whose topics may be directly relevant to 
Tribes include:
     ACYF-CB-PI-09-11, issued on September 17, 2009, describes 
the Federal Advance Planning Document (APD) regulations that Tribes 
have to comply with to claim title IV-B and/or title IV-E FFP for child 
welfare information technology projects, equipment and services.
     ACYF-CB-PI-11-07, issued on July 5, 2011, describes for 
States and Tribes the changes to the regulations at 45 CFR Part 95 
related to the APD process used to obtain approval of FFP for acquiring 
automated data processing equipment and services.
     ACYF-CB-PI-11-08, issued on July 7, 2011, describes 
changes regarding the APD waiver process within the Federal regulations 
at 45 CFR part 95, and offers guidance when requesting a waiver to use 
a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software product designed for the 
title IV-E or title IV-B programs.
    Review of these Action Transmittals and PI may help participants 
pinpoint questions for Federal participants in the education portion of 
the teleconference.
    Since the SACWIS regulations were issued 18 years ago, Federal 
child welfare laws have reflected changes associated with the enactment 
of several major child welfare legislative initiatives. The Fostering 
Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 Public Law 
110-351 enabled Tribal self-governance in child welfare, permitting 
Tribes to access title IV-E reimbursement directly from the Federal 
government, rather than working through a State's IV-E program. As 
Tribes were awarded title IV-E development grants, staff from their 
Child Welfare programs expressed interest in acquiring automated 
technology. It became evident to CB that the SACWIS model might not 
meet the needs of Tribes.
    Our desire to hold a consultation reflects our growing familiarity 
with the automation needs and preferences of Tribes and our desire to 
seek ideas about how CB can support title IV-E Tribal agencies build 
information systems that will support their business needs. CB invites 
Tribal leaders and their representatives to join in a consultation via 
teleconference to provide input on the following questions:
    Questions: Please identify the question to which you are 
responding. If you have additional comments about SACWIS, please 
identify them by citing the related section of regulations or program 
guidance.
    (1) What are the obstacles for your Tribe in building a child 
welfare information system in general and a SACWIS-type system 
specifically?
    (2) What information do you consider critical to managing your 
child welfare program?
    (3) Is there any special information that Tribes need or will need 
in order to operate child welfare programs funded with title IV-E 
dollars?
    Tribes may also provide written comments through the methods cited 
in the ADDRESSES section, regardless of participation in the 
teleconference for consultation. Please note that Federal 
representatives attending the consultation teleconferences will not be 
able to respond directly during the consultations to questions raised 
by the participants.

    Authority:  HHS ACF Tribal Consultation Policy.

    Dated: December 22, 2011.
Bryan Samuels,
Commissioner, Administration on Children, Youth and Families.
[FR Doc. 2011-33336 Filed 1-4-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4184-25-P