The Department of Family Administration (DFA) awards funds to support the fair and efficient resolution of domestic and juvenile matters across Maryland. These funds come from different sources. Both state funds, allocated to the Judiciary by the General Assembly, and external funding from federal and other sources, are administered by the Department of Family Administration.
Grants Awarded with State Funds
State funds, allocated by the General Assembly, are received by the Maryland Judiciary each year and awarded by the Department of Family Administration as grants to courts and governments, institutions of higher education and non-profit organizations to further the goal of helping families have better outcomes in family law matters. Three types of grants are routinely awarded through the DFA and they are described below. The availability of funds is contingent upon the provision of funds in the Maryland Judiciary budget by the Maryland General Assembly for each fiscal year. Grants awarded with state funds are awarded on a state fiscal year cycle July 1st through June 30th.
Jurisdictional/Family Services Grants
Eligibility: Governments administering Circuit Court Family Divisions or Family Service Programs
These grants are designed to maintain family divisions within Maryland’s larger circuit courts and to support family services programs within the smaller circuit courts. They are intended to assist the circuit courts in fulfilling the mandate of Maryland Rule 16-204, ensuring that services provided by the courts are accessible to all litigants regardless of their ability to pay for the services and without regard to representational status.
Special Projects Grants
Eligibility: State and Local Governments within the state of Maryland, Non-Profit Organizations and Institutions of Higher Education
Special Project Grants are intended to support programs that offer services to increase access to justice and enhance the experience of families and children involved with Maryland’s legal system. The Special Projects grant category funds a broad range of program types including, but not limited to: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Justice, Foster Care, Adult Guardianship and other Domestic matters.
Court Appointed Special Advocate Grants
Eligibility: Any government/government entities, non-profit organizations or institutions of higher education administering a CASA program. The program must be a member in good standing with both the Maryland and National CASA Associations (NCASAA), and in compliance with NCASAA standards.
These grants are available to all CASA programs in the state of Maryland who meet the eligibility criteria. The CASA Programs are authorized to operate in Maryland subject to approved Rules and Guidelines, by Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, §3-830. CASA grants are offered to support the responsibilities of CASA programs as outlined in the Rule. Pursuant to Rule §3-830, CASA programs train and support volunteer advocates who provide the court with background information to aid the court in making decisions in the child’s best interest; and ensure that the child is provided appropriate case planning and services. These grants are intended to maintain current program services and encourage an increase in capacity in areas of highest need.
Funding with Other Sources
The Department of Family Administration also may receive funds from other sources, separate from funds received from the General Assembly. These funds may be awarded to the Judiciary through grants, cooperative agreements, or other instruments. The Department of Family Administration then utilizes these funds in a way that best supports the fair and efficient resolution of domestic and juvenile matters across Maryland.
Cooperative Reimbursement Agreement (CRA)
Each year the Maryland Judiciary enters into a “Cooperative Reimbursement Agreement” (CRA) with the Maryland Child Support Enforcement Administration (CSEA). The CSEA is the entity in our State designated to receive and administer federal funds for child support. Through our CRA, the Maryland Judiciary receives federal funds to reimburse the courts for the work our courts do to establish, modify and enforce child support orders involving the Offices of Child Support Enforcement. These funds support work that is authorized under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
Each CRA follows the federal fiscal year cycle, which begins each year on October 1st. This means that each CRA spans two state fiscal year cycles. For example, the CRA for the period October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016, involves State Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017.