State Court Improvement Program


This program provides funding to state and tribal courts to improve the quality of court processes and legal representation. The program provides courts 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 specific needs. State courts are required to collaborate with the state child welfare agency and tribes in this work. The program also provides $1,000,000 annually for tribal court recipients through discretionary awards.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Administration For Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
A - Formula Grants; B - Project Grants
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2016 It is anticipated that between formula and discretionary grants, a total of 163 grants will be awarded. 165 grants were awarded.
Fiscal Year 2017 165 formula and discretionary grants were awarded.
Fiscal Year 2018 A total of 168 grants were awarded between formula and discretionary grants.
Fiscal Year 2019 156 grants were awarded between formula and discretionary grants to states and territories and there were 7 tribal grant non-competing continuations.
Fiscal Year 2020 Fifty-three new grants were awarded to states and territories under the CIP formula grants and there were 7 tribal grant non-competing continuations.
Fiscal Year 2021 Grants were awarded to 53 states and territories under the CIP formula grants and there were 7 tribal grant non-competing continuations in discretionary grants. Previously, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) was enacted into law on December 27, 2020 and included Division X, the “Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act.” Division X contained additional, supplemental or enhanced funding for several programs authorized under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act (the Act). For the Court Improvement Program it provided an additional $10 million to states and eligible tribes. Please see Program Instruction ACYF-CB-PI-21-04 ( for more information. Therefore, FY 2021 grant award information will differ from other years.
Fiscal Year 2023 It is anticipated that grants will be awarded to 53 states and territories under the CIP formula grants and there will be 7 tribal grant non-competing continuations in discretionary grants.
Fiscal Year 2024 It is anticipated that grants will be awarded to 53 states and territories under the CIP formula grants and there will be 7 tribal grant non-competing continuations in discretionary grants.
Social Security Act, Title IV-B, Part 2, Section 438
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
The highest state courts in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands 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. Tribal courts or tribal governments of federally recognized Tribes may apply for grants. To be eligible, a tribe must be operating an approved title IV-E program in accordance with section 479B of the Act; or plan to operate a title IV-E program and have received a title IV-E plan development grant, as authorized by section 476 of the Act; or have a court responsible for proceedings related to foster care or adoption (section 438(c)(3)(A)(iv) of the Act).
Beneficiary Eligibility
Families and children who are served by state and tribal courts in proceedings related to foster care, guardianship and adoption.
All state courts that 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. Tribal Court Improvement Program grants are discretionary and are awarded on a competitive basis to federally recognized tribes.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Application Procedure
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Program instructions for the formula program can be obtained from the Children's Bureau, ACYF and the appropriate Health and Human Services (HHS) Regional Offices. Tribal applicants may find and apply to discretionary Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) on
Award Procedure
For the discretionary tribal program, each application will be screened to determine whether it meets any of the disqualifying factors: missing the application deadline, required electronic submission or waiver requested and approved, or exceeding the Award Ceiling. Disqualified applications are considered to be "non-responsive" and are excluded from the competitive review process. Applications competing for financial assistance will be reviewed and evaluated by merit review panels using only the criteria described in NOFO. Each panel is composed of experts with knowledge and experience in the area under review. Generally, review panels include three reviewers and one chairperson. Results of the competitive merit review are taken into consideration by ACF in the selection of projects for funding; however, merit review scores and rankings are not binding. Scores and rankings are only one element used in the award decision-making process. ACF reserves the right to evaluate applications in the larger context of the overall portfolio by considering geographic distribution of federal funds (e.g. ensuring coverage of states, counties, or service areas) in its pre-award decisions. ACF will complete a review of risk posed by applicants as described in 45 CFR 75.205. ACF may elect not to fund applicants with management or financial problems that would indicate an inability to successfully complete the proposed project. Applications may be funded in whole or in part. Successful applicants may be funded at an amount lower than requested.
Formula Awards: Contact the headquarters or regional location, as appropriate for application deadlines. Discretionary Awards: See the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for deadline information.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Federal approval time will be between 30 and 120 days.
There is no appeal process for unsuccessful applicants of the discretionary Tribal Court Improvement Program. For existing tribal program recipients and formula program recipients, appeals for disputes not related to unsuccessful applications may take place in accordance with 45 CFR Part 16, subject to the limitations of the Appendix A.
Complete renewal applications will be accepted every five years for the formula State Court Improvement Program with updates submitted annually. The discretionary Tribal Court Improvement Program will be re-competed following completion of the five year project period for existing projects, and non-competing continuations will be issued based on availability of funds, satisfactory progress, compliance with grant terms and conditions and a determination that continuation funding is in the best interest of the federal government.
How are proposals selected?
States that submit an acceptable plan will receive funding. For the discretionary tribal program, the criteria for selecting proposals will be published in the NOFO.
How may assistance be used?
Awards 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 to promote continuous quality improvement with respect to: due process; timeliness and quality of court hearings; quality legal representation; engagement of the entire family in court processes; improved case tracking and analysis of child welfare cases; data collection, analysis and sharing; and training of legal and judicial personnel in child welfare cases, including cross-training with child welfare agency staff and contractors.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Not applicable.
45 CFR Part 75 Subpart F applies to this program.
All records are to be maintained in accordance with 45 CFR 75.361-365.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory Formula: Title IV Chapter 7 Part B Subpart 2 Section 438(d) Public Law Social Security Act 42 U.S.C. 629h

Matching is mandatory. 25%. Each state court with an approved application is allotted $255,000. In addition to this base amount, the remainder of the amount appropriated for all state courts 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. Non-federal share (or match) is required at the rate of 25 percent of the total budget. There is no match requirement for the Tribal Court Improvement Program.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Formula awards are made quarterly. Discretionary awards to tribes are made annually. Post award, the Division of Payment Management will establish an account from which a recipient may draw down award funds.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Contact the Children's Bureau Regional Program Managers
Headquarters Office
Scott Trowbridge
330 C Street SW, Room 3507A
Washington, DC 20201 US
Phone: (202)795-7771
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Project Grants (Discretionary)) FY 22$941,316.00; FY 23 est $943,000.00; FY 24 est $943,000.00; FY 21$940,996.00; FY 20$30,202,241.00; FY 19$938,000.00; FY 18$934,000.00; FY 17$19,551,000.00; FY 16 est $930,000.00; - (Formula Grants) FY 22$29,319,245.00; FY 23 est $29,319,245.00; FY 24 est $29,319,245.00; FY 21$29,319,245.00; FY 20$10,441,244.00; FY 19$10,410,180.00; FY 18$29,058,245.00; FY 17$8,379,000.00; FY 16$27,960,000.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
FY 2022: Mandatory (state) grant awards ranged from $259,981 to $1,906,007 with an average of $515,981.13. FY 2022: Discretionary tribal grant awards ranged from $106,686 to $151,683 with an average of $134,473.71.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
The following Program Instructions (PI) apply to this program: ACYF-CB-PI-21-02 and ACYF-CB-PI-23-03. The Court Improvement Program is not regulated.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not applicable.


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