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 program also provides $1,000,000 annually for a Tribal Court Improvement Program.

Agency - Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the Federal government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.

Office - See Regional Agency Offices.

Please contact the ACF branch of the appropriate Regional Office.

(See Appendix IV of the Catalog.).

Selected Recipients for this Program

RecipientAmount Start DateEnd Date
Unified Court System Of New York State $ 1,109,661   2021-10-012023-09-30
Puerto Rico Department Of Justice $ 0   2021-10-012023-09-30
Judiciary Courts Of The State Of Arkansas $ 403,341   2021-10-012023-09-30
Judiciary Courts Of The State Of Vermont, The $ 281,070   2021-10-012023-09-30
Judiciary Courts Of The Commonwealth Of Kentucky $ 467,965   2021-10-012023-09-30
Judiciary Courts Of The State Of Nebraska $ 355,956   2021-10-012023-09-30
Supreme Court Of The State Of Delaware $ 298,864   2021-10-012023-09-30
Judiciary Courts Of The State Of West Virginia $ 331,370   2021-10-012023-09-30
Judiciary Courts Of The State Of Oregon $ 437,862   2021-10-012023-09-30
Legislative Office Of The State Of Rhode Island $ 300,636   2021-10-012023-09-30

Program Accomplishments

Fiscal Year 2016: 165 grants were awarded. Fiscal Year 2017: It is anticipated that between formula and discretionary grants, a total of 163 grants will be awarded. Fiscal Year 2018: It is anticipated that between formula and discretionary grants, a total of 163 grants will be awarded.

Uses and Use Restrictions

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, enhance engagement of the entire family in court processes, and provide for training of judges, attorneys, and legal personnel in child welfare cases.

Eligibility Requirements

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 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.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Preapplication coordination is not applicable.

Environmental impact information is not required for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program. Program instructions can be obtained from the Children's Bureau, ACYF and the appropriate Health and Human Services (HHS) Regional Offices. Funding opportunity announcements for the tribal program are published on website as available.

Award Procedures

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.


Social Security Act, Title IV-B, Part 2, Section 438.

Range of Approval/Disapproval 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.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Statutory Formula: Matching Requirements: Percent: 25%. Each state court with an approved application is allotted $85,000. 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. The same formula and match requirements apply to each of the three CIP grants.. 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.

Post Assistance Requirements


Annual self-assessment reports are due on June 30th.

No cash reports are required.

No progress reports are required.

Fiscal reports are required annually and are due 90 days after the close of the grant year.

No performance monitoring is required.


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.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Formula Grants) FY 16 $27,960,000; FY 17 est $30,000,000; and FY 18 est $30,000,000. (Project Grants (Discretionary)) FY 16 Not Available; FY 17 est $930,000; and FY 18 est $1,000,000

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

FY 2016: State grant awards ranged from $91,753 to $687,973 with an average of$173,256. FY 2016: Tribal grant awards ranged from $32,282 to $140,000 with an average of $103,555.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

ACYF-CB-PI-16-05, issued October 27, 2016. The Court Improvement Program is not regulated.

Information Contacts

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 330 C Street, SW, Room 3508A, Washington, District of Columbia 20201 Email: Phone: (202) 205-8709.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Not Applicable.

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