Participant Guide

Module Seven: Fiscal Management

Description: Child welfare services funding includes multiple allocations and funding sources

Learning Objectives:

  • Knowledge: Recognize the key components of state, federal, and local funding and CWS allocation methodology
  • Skill: Use tested and recommended fiscal tools to support budgeting and resource development in the agency
  • Attitude: Support sound fiscal principles in managing budget and human resources

Reading and Activities: 2 to 4 hours

Coaching: 2 hour

Segment #1 - Fiscal Essentials

Reading and Activities: 1 to 2 hours

Coaching: 1/2 hour

Learning Objective

Recognize the key components of federal, state, and local funding for child welfare services.


Funding Sources for California Counties

  • Human Services Funding
    • The 2016 County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) provided a Fiscal Essentials 101 presentation to inform attendees about the essentials of human services financing, including:
      • a high-level overview on how human services is budgeted,
      • information as to how programs are funded including 1991 and 2011 realignment, and
      • current changes in finance.
      • Click here for that presentation.
        (Please note that page 15 of Fiscal Essentials 101 shows a hard-to-read sample of an Allocation Matrix. If you would like to see a recent Allocation Matrix, go to:
      • This CWDA PowerPoint presentation looks at all types of social services programs. The following section looks at funding for Child Welfare Programs.
  • Child Welfare Services Funding
    • Funding for all Social Services Programs including Child Welfare Services include:
      • Federal
      • State
      • Realignment
      • County General Fund
      • Grants
  • Allocations
    • Counties are allocated funds based on various methodologies. Allocations are issued via a County Fiscal Letter which describes the methodology used to determine the allocation, claiming instructions for costs associated with the allocation, and the program codes associated with the allocation.
    • Multiple allocations support Child Welfare Services, each defined to meet a specific need.
    • Each allocation has a Sharing Ratio that defines the percent of the allocation that is supported by federal, state or county dollars (Federal/State/County).
    • Some allocations are open-ended, that is, the amount of the allocation is not capped but will cover all costs incurred for the specific purpose of the allocation.
    • Other allocations are capped, that is, there is a maximum amount that will be given for the program or activity.
    • If the County’s costs exceed the allocation, the activity/program is “Overmatched” when county funds permit. Overmatching should not happen accidentally. It is a decision that may involve the Agency Department head, the County Administrative Officer, and/or Board of Supervisors.
    • Allocations can fund:
      • Specific programs and/or activities
      • Administrative costs (including staffing and benefits), services or a combination of these.
      • Each allocation has a methodology defined by California Department of Social Services (CDSS) methodology that identifies the county share and the federal and state participation in costs.
    • Allocations can be:
      • Reimbursement for actual cost of benefits and payments for specific programs
      • Reimbursement for expenditures for funded activities or services (costs are submitted via CDSS Claim forms)
      • Prorated share of the total state budgeted amount based on the caseloads or staff activities captured in Time Studies
    • “Titled” federal funding is received by the state and distributed to counties based on the methodology of each allocation. The Title number refers to the number assigned to the specific need that is being addressed.
    • State and County funds are used to draw down or “match” federal funding.
    • Titled federal funding for Child Welfare services includes:
      • Title IV-B, Sub-Part 1 – A small, capped allocation which requires a 25% County General Fund match to draw down the allocation. It is used for services that support Emergency Response, Family Maintenance, Family Reunification and Permanent Placement programs.  In many California counties, it is generally depleted by the first or second fiscal quarter. Additional services costs are shifted to non-federal funding (70% 2011 Realignment and 30% County General Share).
      • Title IV-B, Sub-Part 2 – Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) allocation. See description below.
      • Title IV-E – open ended entitlement; funds assistance payments and administrative costs including worker salary and benefits for Federal Foster Care, Adoptions and Kin-Gap Assistance. It also funds administrative costs including salary and benefits for Social Workers for referral to services, court work, placements, case planning and management. Cases that are not linked to federal funding are not eligible (see “linkage of Title IV-E funds to AFDC standards” below). Cost of services to children or families is not included.
      • Title XIX – open ended entitlement; provides partial coverage for referrals and case work for Medi-Cal eligible or potentially eligible dependent children for health, mental health, substance abuse treatment and health related Social Services. It also provides 75% reimbursement for Skilled Professional medical personnel and 50% reimbursement for health-related services and activities.
  • Linkage of Title IV-E funds to AFDC standards
    • Use of Title IV-E funds is for children and families who are determined to meet federal eligibility requirements.
    • Linkage to Federal eligibility is based on 1996 income and deprivation standards of the former AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) program:
      • Deprivation standards: Children are deprived of parental support due to at least one parent’s continued absence, physical or mental incapacity or death.
      • In two parent households in which both parents are able-bodied, at least one parent must be unemployed and have a “recent connection to the workforce.”
      • Current income must be below the financial threshold established in 1996. In 1996, the income limit for a California family of three to qualify for AFDC was $723.  The income limit for the same family to qualify for CalWORKs cash assistance today is $1,169.
      • The number of federally eligible children has steadily decreased over the years due to the present cost of living far exceeding 1996 levels. Reimbursements for expenditures are discounted by the percentage of non-federal children in foster care; the result is decreasing federal participation of Title IV-E federal funding.
      • There are ongoing federal discussions to delink Title IV-E funding from the discount rate and convert Title IV-E from an uncapped funding source to a capped (block grant) funding source.
      • The percent of cases that are determined to be non-federal (i.e., families who do not meet the criteria for federal eligibility as explained above) establish a “Discount Rate” for the county. The average discount rate among California counties is 65%.
    • Counties were previously given the option of participating in a Title IV-E Waiver Project which gives a Block Grant instead of uncapped reimbursement for Foster Care benefits. Eight counties currently participate,
      • Block Grants amounts are established using a base year when Foster Care caseloads were low.
      • Block Grants give broader discretion to counties on how funding is used.
      • Placement rates are set by the state for Title IV-E counties.
      • Each county had to examine the fiscal benefits and risks of participating in the Title IV-E Waiver project and determine whether it is cost beneficial to participate.
  • Federally funded prevention funds that flow through counties
    • Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) is a federal program under Title IV-B, Subpart 2 of the Social Security Act for states to operate coordinated child and family services including:
    • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)
      • Supports states for improving the child protective services’ systems through its basic state grant.
      • Supports child abuse prevention activities by funding discretionary grants to states and/or public or private agencies or organizations.
      • See CDSS website for more information on CAPTA funding
    • Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP)
      • The purpose of CBCAP is:
      • To support community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand, enhance, and coordinate initiatives, programs, and activities to prevent child abuse and neglect.
      • To support the coordination of resources and activities to better strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect; and
      • To foster understanding, appreciation and knowledge of diverse populations in order to effectively prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.
      • See CDSS website for more information on CBCAP funding
    State funds also provide a share of funding for various programs, services and activities, including:
    • A share of funding for federal programs; the sharing ratio for each allocation defines the federal, state and county participation (Examples: CWS Skilled Professional Medical Personnel is 75/17.5/7.5, that is 75% Federal Health related Fund, 17.5% State funds and 7.5% County General Fund.
    • State Only Programs for children and families not eligible for federal funding.
    • Capped allocations for specific activities that are not included in 2011 Realignment, for example State Family Preservation, Commercially Sexually Exploited Children, Children and Family Team, Resource Family Approval. A county’s prorated share of allocations is based on a prorated share of state caseloads.
    • Support for new premises and programs created by legislation that require new or enhanced activity; these are grouped in the Post 2011 Realignment allocation.
    • Note that the state calculates the cost of Social Worker at $70,000. The cost in many counties exceeds the state’s coverage of costs.
    • County General Funds are used to cover costs as follows:
      • A mandated portion of assistance payments, i.e., Foster Care, Adoption.
      • A mandated share of administrative costs.
      • Overmatched costs (overspending in a specific area where federal and state funds do not provide sufficient funds to cover necessary costs, for example, Post 2011 Realignment).
    • Prior to Realignment
      • Child Welfare Services was funded by multiple separate allocations,
      • Funding sources were not stable, each year the state budget would determine the Child Welfare allocations.
      • Each allocation was separate and could only be used as it was defined for that allocation (there was no flexibility to move funds between allocations).
      • Allocations not spent were redistributed to counties who had “overspent” their allocation.
    • 2011 Realignment
      • In 2011, the State of California reorganized the distribution of funds to counties. It included two separate components:
        • Child Protection Fund and Adult Protection Fund.
        • A separate 2011 Realignment fund supports Mental Health.
    • Child Protection 2011 Realignment intended outcomes:
      • Combined multiple funding allocations into a single funding stream umbrella.
      • Reassigned the responsibility of 100% of the non-federal costs to the counties along with a shift of tax revenue to counties in lieu of the state general fund.
      • Funding for these programs now bypasses the state general fund and budget process entirely.
      • In a strong economy realignment provides for growth.
      • According to statute, growth must be used to fund the programs included in each realignment account.
      • Did not change mandates -- counties are still responsible for the same mandates.
      • Stabilized the funding source and dedicated a portion of the sales tax and vehicle license fees for Child and Adult Protection.
      • Because the funding source is now dedicated, the amount of revenue is now capped based on the amount of sales tax and vehicle license fees collected.
    • Benefit to counties
      • Stable funding source from a dedicated revenue stream; however, this means the allocation is capped by revenues coming to the state and county from the License Fees and sales tax. Shifts in this revenue impact the allocations.
      • Counties cannot use Realignment funds to pay for activities outside the scope of 2011 Realignment allocations.
      • More flexibility for counties to design their own budget within CWS statutes and regulations to support individual county budget needs.
    • Challenges to Counties
      • Realignment funds are capped; this is not an unlimited source of revenue.
      • Revenue may be down when program demands are on the rise.
      • Vehicle License Fees tend to be volatile.
    • New mandates enacted after 2011 Realignment have now been grouped into the Post 2011 New Premises Allocation:
      • Includes Child Welfare Services premises resulting from legislation, regulations, executive orders, and administrative directives. This allocation funds additional time for caseworkers to complete specific activities.
      • Claiming structure is established by CDSS and in coordination with CWDA.
      • Includes many small, capped allocations such as: Case Record Reviews, Sibling Visitation, Pregnant/Parenting Minors and Non-minor Dependents.


  1. Meet with your agency’s Director to learn about his/her thoughts and concerns about the child welfare services budget.  Is there anything s/he especially wants you to review and/or monitor?
  2. Meet with your agency’s budget Director and the fiscal analysts who work with your child welfare services budget. If you have a particular child welfare person, e.g., an administrator, who is the primary liaison to fiscal staff, you may want to ask these questions also of that person. However, you must meet with your agency’s fiscal staff as well to begin a solid working relationship.
    1. Ask questions about
      1. How the budget is developed in your county
      2. The trends in the budget, both revenues and expenditures, e.g., Has the budget been status quo in recent years? Is CWS overspending or underspending in any areas?
      3. Does the county overmatch (contribute more county general dollars to the child welfare activities than the sharing ratios require)?
      4. Have there been any audit exceptions due to either accounting or program errors, i.e., were the errors by accountants or by child welfare staff? Were the audit exceptions resolved?
      5. Do the budget Director and the child welfare Director have regular budget and contract meetings?  Who will be the child welfare director’s primary fiscal liaison?
      6. Does the budgeting staff provide regular monthly reports?
      7. When child welfare services seek to or must initiate a new projects/program, what is the role and responsibility of fiscal staff and what is that of child welfare staff?
      8. Does the fiscal staff have any concerns that you should be made aware of?  Any suggestions for your consideration?


  1. CWDA Fiscal Essentials 101 (Please note that page 15 of Fiscal Essentials 101 shows a hard-to-read sample of an Allocation Matrix. If you would like to see a recent Allocation Matrix, go to:
  2. PSSF Fact Sheet (Please note that on the last page of the PSSF document the County Fiscal Letters link does not open. Please use:
  3. CAPTA Fact Sheet
  4. CBCAP Fact Sheet
  5. Information about child welfare services funding: Report to the Contra Costa County FAMILY AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE, October 2017, Children & Family Services FUNDING STREAMS AND PREVENTION SERVICES
  6. Summary presentation that accompanies the above-named report:
  7. One county’s Chart of Child Welfare Services Programs (4 pages)

Segment #2: Time studies, County expense claims

Reading and Activities: 1 to 2 hours

Coaching: 1 hour

Learning Objective

The Director will learn about the time study process and county expense claims.


  • Time Studies
    • Purpose: Method of claiming staff salaries, benefits, and overhead costs.
    • County staff spend time studying various program codes to capture activity and allocate costs to various programs.
    • Total Full Time Equivalents for work activity determine the Federal and State revenue, which are subject to funding limitations.
    • When child welfare services are understaffed:
      • An opportunity to maximize revenue for mandated activities is lost.
      • Since overhead costs are shared, fewer Child Welfare staff time study hours result in a higher percentage of overhead costs being shifted to other agency programs with capped allocations. The same is true for other social services programs that time study. So, if Eligibility services in your county are understaffed, overhead costs are borne by CWS.
  • The time study process
    • The time study process is a work activity survey to document what programs and tasks staff were engaged in during a specific time period. Each child welfare staff person completes a document indicating what activities s/he worked on during the month.
    • Each quarter time study information must be summarized by categories for input into the county expense claim (CEC).
    • Some examples of categories:
      • Support Staff Pools
      • Admin Generic
      • Admin Program
      • Clerical
      • EDP (Electronic Data Processing)
      • SDD (Staff Development Department)
      • Caseworker Pools
      • Social Services Workers
      • Eligibility Workers
      • Employment Service Workers
      • Fraud Workers
    • Each Time Study Summary displays the total hours by program as reported by staff in the respective salary pool.
    • The Full Time Equivalent (FTE) values by program code are also displayed and are used for input into the CEC.
    • Caseworker hours are used to develop ratios to allocate costs to the function and program levels in the CEC.
    • Time study hours are the single most important data element used in the CEC to allocate costs to the program level.
      • Engage with fiscal staff to share fiscal and program information to ensure that all codes are accurate and maximized.
  • Time Study Codes
    • All time study code hours are input into the CEC from the Time Study Summary for each salary pool category.
    • The CEC assigns each time study code to one of five program functions:
      • Social Services
      • CalWORKs
      • Other Public Welfare
      • Child Care
      • Generic
    • The time study process is vital to department funding since the State uses expenditure data to build many of the county allocations.
    • Additionally, time study data is also used for staffing analysis and reporting purposes.
  • County Expense Claim
    • There is a County Expense Claim – Guidelines and Procedures manual that was developed by state and county staff to assist counties in preparation of the county administrative claim.
    • The manual is a reference tool for understanding the structure of the County Expense Claim and the principles at its foundation. By reviewing the material, you will develop an understanding about the importance of the County Expense Claim process.
    • It is the instrument by which your county obtains the administrative revenues anticipated in your child welfare services budget.
    • Here is the link to that manual
    • The 2018 County Welfare Directors Association (CWDA) conference offered a Social Services Fiscal Essentials 102 presentation. Fiscal Essentials 102 provides a high-level understanding of county expense claims and time studies, as well as:
      • how costs are charged to Social Services programs in the state claiming process,
      • how time studies drive the allocation of costs, and
      • why it is critical to have a global view of resource and funding and
      • how those factors may impact your programs, and
      • a review of the complete local budget cycle and how that might impact planning for your programs.
      • Here is the link to the PowerPoint


After reviewing the content of this module:
  1. Review Fiscal Essentials 102 PowerPoint.
  2. Make a plan to ensure that you engage with fiscal staff and discuss how you will share program and fiscal information so that time study codes are used accurately and maximized.
  3. Explore the CWDA County Expense Claim Manual in the areas identified from meetings with county fiscal staff.
  4. Identify funding and county expense claim areas for follow up with county fiscal staff.


  1. CWDA Fiscal Essentials 102
  2. County Expense Claim - Guidelines and Procedures

Segment #3: County budgeting and contract management

Reading and Activities: 1 to 2 hours

Coaching: ½ hour

Learning Objective

Director will be able to understand and recognize the need for regular budget and contracts reports and meetings to assess status of their CWS budget, monitor expenditures and ensure providers are submitting their billing timely. The Director will develop an understanding of the funding streams and opportunities around the requirements to address race, equity, diversity and inclusion in contracts.


  • Budgeting for your County
    • Every county will have its own budgeting process. Generally, county fiscal years start on July 1 and end on June 30 of the following year. The overall county budget includes the budget for every county department.  The overall county budget development is overseen by the County Administrative Office (CAO).  The CAO presents the budget to the County Board of Supervisors who will review it, discuss it in a board meeting(s), make changes if they desire, and approve it for finalization to guide the following year’s county operations.
    • Each Director will have to find out when the county’s and departments’ planning processes begin. The following year’s budget planning can begin during the fall of the current year. It is important for the Director to know the time frame for planning the following year’s budget in order to maximize the opportunities to make and justify budget requests.
    • Typically, budget planning will include a review of how the CWS department fared in last year’s budget and where there were deficits and surpluses. There may also be new expenditures anticipated that must be added into the budget. These two elements, i.e., performance on last year’s budget and new or different budget items, should be discussed with both CWS program administrators and managers and with the departmental budget officer and assigned fiscal staff.
    • In budget planning, the CWS Director, administrator, and managers will use the State’s County Fiscal Letters which identify each county’s allocations for various programs and services. The State allocations often function as a beginning point for discussion about what amounts will be budgeted for the different operations.  Each county varies as to whether it seeks to maximize the allocations and whether it will commit to use County General Funds to match or draw down Federal/State funds that have a county match (i.e., require the county to contribute a percentage to access the funds).
    • The CWS Director will have to submit a written justification for new expenditures or sometimes to continue other expenditures. These types of justification statements will vary in form according to the county’s requirements. Generally, however, the justifications will include a statement of what is needed (staff, equipment, client services vouchers, contracted services, etc.), its cost (in total and the county contribution), what will be provided, if it is a requirement, why it is needed, and the difference it will make.
    • These justifications are usually reviewed by the department’s fiscal officer, the department’s Director, and a decision is made as to whether the department will support the request and present it to the County Administrative Office for consideration and inclusion in the county budget. How much attention is given to the new request and justification depends on many factors, starting with the size of the request.
    • Although ultimately the final budget decision is made by the Board of Supervisors, it is essential that the CWS Director represent and articulate budgetary needs accurately and clearly. The approved CWS budget plays a significant role in determining CWS performance and effectiveness, e.g., are there enough staff to deploy? the right types of staff? Enough services to offer clients? Etc.
    • While there are similarities in county budgeting methods, every county’s process will differ somewhat based on the county’s goals and values and the county’s financial position. It is very important that every CWS Director learn as early as possible what the county budgeting process is, how the CAO’s role functions (e.g., does the Board “rubber stamp” the budget presented by the CAO?), and what other variables affect the budget planning process in that county.
  • Tools and Methods to Manage Your Budget
    • The CWS Director should find out what tools, reports, statements are used to manage the budget for his/her county. A good starting place is to look at the CWS budget for the current year and last year.
    • Relationships are also a good “tool.” Ask the department’s fiscal officer to review these documents with you at at least a “big picture” level.
    • One ongoing challenge in many counties is what many describe as a lack of communication between the “program people” and the “budget people.” To reach out to the fiscal officer early will convey a willingness by the CWS Director to work in a fiscally responsible manner and it also begins a constructive relationship between the fiscal and program arenas.
    • You will want a copy of your budget, all monthly and quarterly fiscal reports that affect your budget (e.g., reports on contracted services, CEC and time studies reports, etc.) Ask the Human Services/Social Services Agency Director (to whom you report) and the department’s fiscal officer what other reports are produced that will inform your planning and operations.


After reviewing the content of this module:

  1. The director should request a budget report to assess current budget and expenditures
    1. If there is no regular monthly budget report or reporting process the director should work on development of this process.
  2. The Director should request a report of all county contracts to assess how the contracts unit/staff monitors expenditures on contracts and what the agencies process is for working with providers to submit their billing timely.
    1. If there is no regular process in place to do monthly or quarterly reporting from contracts, the Director should start that process of having regular contract report's.
    2. The California Department of Social Services has partnered with UC Davis Human Services to provide county fiscal training. To see if any is scheduled that you can attend see:


  1. Monthly fiscal report example
  2. Program Expenditures quarterly report example
  3. Program expenditures year to date example

Preparation for the next module

Become acquainted with the NIRNs Active Implementation HUB website. An overview of Active Implementation Frameworks.


Segment #1:

CWDA Fiscal Essentials 101

(Please note that page 15 of Fiscal Essentials 101 shows a hard-to-read sample of an Allocation Matrix. If you would like to see a recent Allocation Matrix, go to:

PSSF Fact Sheet

(Please note that on the last page of the PSSF document the County Fiscal Letters link does not open. Please use:

CAPTA Fact Sheet

CBCAP Fact Sheet

Information about child welfare services funding:


Summary presentation that accompanies the above-named Contra Costa County report

One county’s Chart of Child Welfare Services Programs, including funding streams, target populations, sharing ratios, etc. (4 pages)

Segment #2

County Expense Claim - Guidelines and Procedures

CWDA Fiscal Essentials 102

Segment #3:

Monthly fiscal report example

Program Expenditures quarterly report example

Program expenditures year to date example

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