How to tap into section 1115 waivers to pay for the federal share of collections while testing changes to pass-through policies.
State child support programs want to direct more child support collections to current and former assistance families. However, there are limitations. Such as how much the federal government will financially participate in the cost of passing through assigned support collections.
Some state legislatures are willing to fill the funding gap to pay for the state and federal shares of these collections when passed through. However, other states cannot afford to provide all the necessary back-fill funding to make the program whole. This creates tension between the family-centered direction the program is taking in other areas and the important goal of helping to lift families out of poverty by providing more financial support using pass-through policies.
States are Underutilizing Section 1115 Waiver Opportunities
This waiver authority allows the federal Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) to contribute federal financial support, up to $2 million per project. This allows child support agencies to conduct limited-time activities designed to improve the financial well-being of children. They are closely measured to determine results.
How to Access Section 1115 Waivers of Federal Requirements
State child support programs may use this authority to apply for a Section 1115 waiver to pilot new pass-through policies. Through the waiver process, OCSS can forgo up to $2 million of the federal share of collections passed through to families in current assistance cases. States would not have to pay that amount of the federal share. If a state child support program needed to provide additional evidence of the benefits of a distribution policy change, the state could apply for a section 1115 waiver to access this federal financial participation to conduct a pilot study. By measuring the outcomes for families while conducting the pilot, the state could gather data to show state decision-makers how investing in this kind of policy change will improve family financial independence.
Resources on the Section 1115 Waiver Process
- OCSS Information Memorandum 20-03: Section 1115 Waivers
- OCSS Grants and Waivers Foster Program Innovation
- Section 1115 of the Social Security Act