State Court Improvement Program


The program provides three grant opportunities to State courts to improve court efficiency and the quality of legal representation; a basic grant for assessment work; a grant for data collection and analysis; and a grant to increase training of court personnel, including cross training with agency staff. The program provides State 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 the State courts specific needs. State courts are required to collaborate with the State child welfare agency and Tribes in this work. The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34) of 2011, reauthorized all three Court Improvement Program (CIP) grants through fiscal year (FY) 2016. It added provisions encouraging State courts to promote the use of concurrent planning, and increase and improve engagement of the entire family in court processes relating to child welfare, family preservation, family reunification and adoption. The Act also allocated $1,000,000 to establish a Tribal Court Improvement Program.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Office: Administration for Children and Families
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
FORMULA GRANTS; Project Grants (Discretionary)
Program Accomplishments
Fiscal Year 2014: 163 grants were awarded. Fiscal Year 2015: It is anticipated that between formula and discretionary grants, a total of 163 grants will be awarded. Fiscal Year 2016: It is anticipated that between formula and discretionary grants, a total of 163 grants will be awarded.
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 and Puerto Rico 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 Social Security Act (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 which 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 will be awarded on a competitive basis to federally recognized Tribes. 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles applies to this program.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
Application Procedure
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. For State Formula Grant, program instructions can be obtained from the Children's Bureau, ACYF and the appropriate Health and Human Services (HHS) Regional Offices. For Tribal discretionary grants, announcement of the availability of funds is published on the website. Eligible applicants submit applications by specified deadlines.
Award Procedure
Awards to approved applicants will be made from the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Administration, Office of Grants Management.
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Federal approval time will be between 30 and 120 days.
Appeals are processed in accordance with HHS Departmental regulations at 45 CFR Part 16.
Renewal applications will be accepted every four years for the State Court Improvement Program with the option to apply annually for any grant not previously received. The Tribal Court Improvement Program will be recompeted after 36 months, by the Children's Bureau.
How are proposals selected?
Not Applicable.
How may assistance be used?
Grants 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.

Grants under the Tribal Court Improvement Program may be used to conduct assessments of how Tribal courts handle child welfare proceedings and to make improvements to court processes to provide for the safety, permanency, and well-being of children as set forth in the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) and increase and improve engagement of the entire family in court processes relating to child welfare, family preservation, family reunification and adoption; ensure children's safety, permanence, and well-being needs are met in a timely and complete manner (through better collection and analysis of data); and provide for training of judges, attorneys, and legal personnel in child welfare cases.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Program reports are required annually and are due 90 days after the close of the grant year. No cash reports are required. Progress reports are required annually and are due 90 days after the close of the grant year. Fiscal reports are required annually and are due 90 days after the close of the grant year. Performance monitoring is reported in program reports.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503.
Records must be retained at least 3 years. Records shall be retained beyond the 3-year period if audit findings have not been resolved.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory Formula:
Matching Requirements: Percent: 25.%. Each State court with an approved application is allotted $85,000 for fiscal year 2012-2016. 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. Nonfederal share (or match) is required at the rate of 25 percent of the total budget. The same formula and match requirements apply to funds appropriated for case tracking/analysis and training for FY 2012 through 2016 ($20,000,000).
This program does not have MOE requirements. There is no match requirement for the Tribal Court Improvement Program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
The Treasury will provide funds for this program. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: by letter of credit.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
See Regional Agency Offices. Please contact the ACF branch of the appropriate Regional Office. (See Appendix IV of the Catalog.).
Headquarters Office
David Kelly 1250 Maryland Avenue, SW; 8th Floor, Washington, District of Columbia 20024 Email: Phone: (202) 205-8709.
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Formula Grants) FY 14 $29,812,230; FY 15 est $29,800,000; and FY 16 est $30,000,000. (Project Grants (Discretionary)) FY 14 $927,985; FY 15 est $927,985; and FY 16 est $927,985
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
FY 2014: State grant awards ranged from $92,040 to $572,921, with an average of $160,615.
FY 2014 Tribal grant awards ranged between $93,055 and $144,890, with an average of $132,569.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
ACYF-CB-PI-12-02, issued January 11, 2012. The Court Improvement Program is not regulated.
Examples of Funded Projects
Not Applicable.


Related Federal Grants

Federal Grants Resources