Decategorization:  de-cat-e-go-ri-za-tion, noun. The process to release state child welfare and juvenile justice funding from rigid state categorical use requirements. Decat for short.

Decategorization was designed to combine the varied state appropriations for child welfare services into a single fund to support services that better meet the needs of youth and families by allowing local flexibility in how these funds are used.

Counties approved for Decategorization are expected to establish goals, objectives, and outcomes consistent with the legislative and statutory mandates for the program. To accomplish this counties:

  • Establish a Governance Board that meets regularly, has required membership and adheres to open meetings and open records law.
  • Develop plans to ensure services provided to youth and families are preventive, family-centered and community-based in order to reduce use of out-of-home or restrictive interventions.
  • Authorize funding allocations, track expenditures and monitor the performance of funded programs.
  • Coordinate planning and programming decisions with the DHS Service Area Manager and Chief Juvenile Court Officer for the service area.
  • Submit State required reports that assess community needs and describe use of the Decat funds.

The Linn County Decat Board annually allocates funds to service providers that meet the Decat intent. Board participation by the Department of Human Services, Juvenile Court Services and the County is legislative requirement. Decat Board meetings are open to the public.


Decategorization was created in 1987 through Iowa legislation in response to the growing number of children going into foster care.

Reports & Policies

Child & Family Resources