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5000 Legal Contracts

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Texas counties are mandated to represent DFPS in child abuse and neglect cases.

Texas Family Code §264.009

Texas counties may recover a portion of the costs of representing certain children and their parents in child abuse and neglect legal proceedings.

Child Welfare Policy Manual, Section 8.1B, Question 30

County attorneys or district attorneys who represent DFPS in child abuse and neglect cases may receive compensation for doing so by way of contracts for Title IV-E County Legal Services. Reimbursable expenditures include costs incurred to carry out the proper and efficient administration of the state plan.

County legal contracts are a subset of the types of contracts DFPS may enter into with a county for Title IV-E reimbursement. County legal contracts are subject to the same legal authorities and requirements listed in 2000 Legal Basis.

The sub items within 2000 Legal Basis of the handbook contain additional guidance and examples of allowable costs that are specific to county legal contracts.

5100 Types of Expenses

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Two types of expenses, Administrative and Training, are reimbursable under contracts for Title IV-E county legal services. Each type of expense is reimbursed at a different federal financial participation (FFP) level.

Administration

Costs directly related to the administration of the foster care program are allowable if they meet all of the following criteria. Costs must be:

  •  Necessary and reasonable.

  •  Incurred while providing proper and efficient services to children who are eligible under Title IV-E.

  •  Incurred in accordance with 45 CFR §75, §95.507, and §1356.60(c).

Title IV-E allowable administrative costs are reimbursable at 50 percent and may include such costs as:

  •  Salaries

  •  Fringe benefits

  •  Travel

  •  Supplies

  •  Equipment

  •  Other operating expenses

Training

Title IV-E training expenses are a subset of Administration services. The expenses are reimbursable at the rate of 75 percent rather than the 50 percent rate offered for other types of administrative services.

Title IV-E training expenses include:

  •  Salaries

  •  Fringe benefits

  •  Travel expenses

5110 Administration Expenditures

5111 Salaries and Fringe Benefits

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

The salaries and fringe benefits paid to county legal personnel for time spent performing Title IV-E activities are reimbursable.

Fringe benefits include, but are not limited to the following:

  •  Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax, paid by the county

  •  Health insurance

  •  Retirement

  •  Workers’ compensation

The distribution and apportionment of salaries and wages must be both:

  •  In compliance with 45 CFR 75 Subpart E, Cost Principles.

  •  In accordance with the county’s approved budget.

The county may claim reimbursement for any allowable Title IV-E related legal services for children and their parents in the Texas foster care system. Reimbursement is provided for the percent of each staff person’s time that was spent providing services specifically related to Title IV-E. Some examples of legal services that may qualify under Title IV-E may include the following:

  •  Meeting with a child client and/or child’s caregiver, as applicable, or parent client prior to each statutorily required hearing.

  •  Interviewing clients or other person with significant knowledge of the case.

  •  Investigating the facts of the case.

  •  Obtaining and reviewing copies of court files.

Staff whose Work may be Reimbursed

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

Legal

Support

Any court appointed attorney whose costs are reimbursable through the county

District or county attorney

Any court appointed attorneys representing children or their parents in foster care system (including ad litems)

Appellate attorney

Assistant district attorney

Assistant county attorney

Assistant criminal district attorney

Compliance officer (attorney)

CPS unit chief attorney

Criminal district attorney

Deputy division chief

Division chief

Supervising attorney

Administrative clerical staff

Legal clerk

Paralegal

Receptionist

Secretary

Legal secretary

Law clerk

Interpreter (hired and paid by attorney)

5112 Administration Travel

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Travel costs are limited to the maximum Travel Reimbursement rates noted by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and are limited to actual travel costs.

Allowable Travel Costs

Allowable costs incurred by county personnel or legal staff serving children and parents in the Texas foster care system while performing Title IV-E administrative duties may include the following:

  •  Meals

  •  Lodging

  •  Auto rental

  •  Gasoline

  •  Airfare

  •  Mileage

  •  Registration fees

  •  Parking

  •  Other incidental expenses, such as taxi fees and tolls

Unallowable Travel Costs

Costs that may not be reimbursed include the following:

  •  Gratuity

  •  Alcoholic beverages

  •  Any other items not allowed by federal regulations or not directly connected to the Title IV-E program

5113 Supplies

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

The costs of supplies that are reasonable and necessary to administer the Title IV-E program are reimbursable. Purchases are charged at their actual cost after deducting all cash discounts, rebates, and allowances received.

The costs may include items not capitalized under the county policy. (See the Equipment section, below, for procedures related to the capitalization threshold.)

5114 Equipment

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

The cost of equipment deemed reasonable and necessary to administer the Title IV-E program is reimbursable only if it is purchased for employees whose work relates exclusively to Title IV-E.

An item is considered equipment, if the two following conditions exist:

  •  The unit cost is $5,000 or more.

  •  The item has an estimated useful life of more than one year.

See the State of Texas capitalization policy in the document Uniform Grant Management Standards published by the Texas Comptroller.

Equipment is considered a fixed asset, as opposed to a consumable item, and therefore must be capitalized. Equipment must be tracked in a property accounting system and included in the county’s inventory.

For the purpose of reimbursement through the Title IV-E program, the county’s capitalization policy applies. If a county’s capitalization threshold exceeds the $5,000 limit set by the state, an item is considered capitalized equipment for Title IV-E purposes if it costs less than the county’s threshold but more than the state’s.

If a county does not have a capitalization policy, the state’s capitalization policy applies.

5115 Other Operating Expenses

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Certain other costs that are directly related to the administration of the Title IV-E program are reimbursable.

Allowable Costs

Other costs that are reimbursable include but are not limited to the following:

  •  Citations by publication

  •  Legal mediation fees

  •  Expert witness fees

  •  Telephone (purchase and service costs)

  •  Professional membership fees

  •  Filing fees related to child welfare cases

Unallowable Costs

Other costs that are not reimbursable include but are not limited to the following:

  •  Salaries for court employees

  •  Expenses related to Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program

  •  General filing fees unrelated to child welfare cases

  •  Other costs associated with the normal functioning of a court

  •  Costs already allocated to cost allocation for federal assistance programs

  •  Costs associated with drug testing (including expert witnesses).

 

5120 Training Expenditures

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Title IV-E training costs are the costs associated with attending or participating in Title IV-E approved training. The costs must be specifically related to the Title IV-E program as indicated in Appendix B: Title IV-E Training Topics for Which the State May Claim a Title IV-E Match.

Training costs are reimbursable at the enhanced 75 percent match rate only to the extent that a training session is designed to prepare DFPS employees and limited other trainees to carry out the allowable administrative functions identified in 45 CFR, §1356.60(c)(2). Other trainees may include such persons as potential employees, foster care parents, and institution staff. The allowable administrative functions are listed at the beginning of 4120 Administrative Expenditures.

Training for other groups, such as the following, is reimbursable:

  •  CASA volunteers

  •  Contracted child placement providers

  •  The staff of courts that hear abuse and neglect cases

  •  Other court-appointed special advocates representing children in court proceedings as specified in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

Approval from a contract manager must be obtained before billing for Title IV-E training expenses.

5121 Allowable Training Topics

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

For training to be reimbursable at the enhanced 75 percent rate for Title IV-E training, the topic of the training must be both:

  •  Related to one of the activities cited in 45 CFR §1356.60(c)(1)(2).

  •  Allowable as an administrative activity under the Title IV-E program.

See also the guidance provided in Section 8.1H, Child Welfare Policy Manual, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. HHS).

Allowable training topics include the following:

  •  Representation of children and parents in child protection proceedings

  •  The American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Representing Children, Parents, and the Child Welfare Agency in Child Protection Cases

  •  Eligibility determination and re-determination

  •  Trauma informed care training

  •  Referral to services

  •  Preparation for and participation in judicial determinations

  •  Placement of a child

  •  Development of a case plan

  •  Case reviews

  •  Case management and supervision

  •  Recruitment and licensing of foster homes and institutions

For additional allowable training topics see:

Appendix B: Title IV-E Training Topics for Which the State May Claim a Title IV-E Match

Guidance provided on the U.S. HHS website

5122 Training Salaries and Fringe Benefits

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

The training salaries and fringe benefits paid to county legal personnel or legal staff serving children and their parents in the Texas foster care system for the actual time spent attending or participating in Title IV-E training are reimbursable.

Fringe benefits include but are not limited to the following:

  •  Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax paid by the county

  •  Insurance

  •  Retirement

  •  Workers’ compensation

  •  Professional membership fees

The time spent traveling to and from the Title IV-E training may be included.

5123 Travel for Title IV-E Training

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Travel expenses incurred by county legal personnel or legal staff serving children and their parents in the Texas foster care system while attending or participating in Title IV-E training are reimbursable.

Travel costs are limited to the maximum Travel Reimbursement rates noted by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and are limited to actual travel costs.

Reimbursable travel costs may include the following:

  •  Meals

  •  Lodging

  •  Auto rental

  •  Gasoline

  •  Airfare

  •  Mileage

  •  Registration fees

  •  Parking

  •  Other incidental expenses, such as taxi fees and tolls

5130 Exception

Title IV-E Finance Handbook for County Contracts December 2019

Training that is not directly related to Title IV-E topics is not reimbursable at the 75 percent enhanced rate, but may be reimbursable at the 50 percent Administration match rate. Allowable cost is based on the percentage of time that the employee who attends the training is otherwise engaged in Title IV-E activities.

For more guidance on claiming training that is not related to Title IV-E as an administrative expense, contact the contracts administrator.

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