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Home > Advocacy > CWLA 2007 Children's Legislative Agenda > Social Services Block Grant (Title XX)

 
 

CWLA 2007 Children's Legislative Agenda

Social Services Block Grant (Title XX)

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Action

  • Support efforts to restore full funding of the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG, Title XX of the Social Security Act).

  • Reject budget proposals or administrative directives to states that would reduce SSBG funding in an effort to offset budget shortfalls.

History

SSBG is a major source of federal funding that addresses the needs of vulnerable children and youth. SSBG represented 11% of federal funding for child welfare services in state fiscal year 2004. 1 SSBG frequently serves as a link between government funding and private and charitable sources. SSBG funds supplement local and charitable efforts by providing federal dollars to fill a gap these charities may not be able to meet. The breadth of services provided by SSBG funds can also cover shortfalls left by other federal social services programs.

In 1981, SSBG was converted from a matching entitlement fund to a capped federal block grant to states. States were free to decide whom to serve and what services to provide. As a capped entitlement, SSBG funding was intended to bypass the annual appropriations process and automatically provide the level of funds set in the statute-$2.8 billion. Congress, however, reduced funding to $2.3 billion when the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant was created in 1996. Although funding was to be restored to $2.8 billion by 2003, it was reduced again to $1.9 billion in FY 1999, and to $1.7 billion in FY 2000. The $1.7 billion total is what is currently in law. In 2005, SSBG was used as a major funding source for hurricane relief, with Congress allocating an additional $550 million in SSBG solely for hurricane relief. This one-time increase brought SSBG to $2.2 billion in 2005.

Future cuts continue to threaten SSBG. In the federal budget proposal for FY 2007, President Bush proposed a further reduction of $500 million in SSBG funding. In 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) justified the cut by arguing that an assessment called the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) "identified several weaknesses of the block grant, noting that the flexibility of SSBG makes it difficult to measure performance." 2 The same budget document, however, promoted an option to convert federal foster care funds into a fixed "flexible grant."

Status of Funding

Both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees rejected the Administration's proposal. Even so, during summer 2006 the Administration instructed states to assume that SSBG would be reduced by the half billion dollars proposed by the White House when they filed their pre-expenditure reports. Through a joint letter, CWLA and the American Public Human Services Association called on the Administration to provide states with the full amount of $1.7 billion. 3 The Administration refused, indicating that they had the legal authority to ask for these interim reports, despite the earlier contrary action taken by Congress. CWLA, as part of the SSBG Coalition, is continuing to monitor this administrative action and is raising it with Congress.

Although states can use SSBG funds for an array of social services, such as child care or services for the aging, child welfare services receive more of these funds than any other service area. In federal FY 2004, child protection and child foster care services each accounted for 21% of SSBG expenditures. Thirty-eight states used SSBG funds to address child protection services; 37 used SSBG to provide foster care. 4

Key Facts

States can use SSBG to fund 29 different services to prevent or remedy neglect or abuse of children or adults, achieve or maintain economic self-support, reduce unnecessary institutionalization, achieve or maintain independence, and secure referral and screening for appropriate institutional care. In essence, SSBG provides for the flexible allocation of funds within a range of services so states can fine tune their use as needed.

In FY 2004, states spent more than $660 million in SSBG funds on services to children and youth, including adoption, foster care, child protection, independent living, and residential services.

Adoption
  • In 2004, 29 states used $29 million in SSBG funds to help with adoptions. 5

  • Adoption services are designed to facilitate timely placements of children with adoptive families. Services include counseling for birthparents, recruitment of adoptive homes, and pre- and postplacement training and counseling.

  • Of the 509,000 children in foster care in 2004, 117,436 were waiting to be adopted and 51,993 were adopted from foster care. 6
Foster Care
  • In 2004, 37 states used nearly $332 million in SSBG funds for foster care services to more than 542,038 children who were in foster care at some time during the year. That year, 509,000 children were in foster care on September 30. 7

  • States use SSBG to pay foster care costs for the board and care of children not eligible for federal Title IV-E foster care assistance. Foster care services are designed to secure living arrangements for children or youth who have been abused and neglected and cannot live at home. These children and youth may live with foster care families, including relatives. They may also live in group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, preadoptive homes, or in supervised independent-living arrangements. Services include needs assessments, case planning, case management, medical care, child counseling, parent or foster parent counseling, and foster family recruitment.
Child Protection
  • In FY 2004, 38 states used more than $194 million in SSBG funds to protect children from abuse and neglect. 8 In 2004, state and local child protective service agencies received an estimated 3 million reports of child abuse and neglect. 9

  • Child protective services are designed to prevent or remedy the further abuse, neglect, or exploitation of children who may have experienced physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or negligent treatment or maltreatment. Services include investigation, medical care, emergency shelter, case planning, child counseling, family counseling, legal assistance, and placement in foster care.
Independent Living
  • In FY 2004, 17 states used $8 million in SSBG funds to provide independent and transitional living services to more than 18,000 youth.

  • Supervised independent and post-foster care services for youth are designed to help older youth in foster care or homeless youth make the transition to independence. Services include educational assistance, employment training, training in daily life skills, and housing assistance. 10
Residential Treatment
  • In FY 2004, $83 million in SSBG funds supported residential treatment to more than 31,000 youth in 23 states.

  • Residential treatment services provide short-term residential care and comprehensive treatment for children who cannot be cared for at home or are in foster care and need specialized services. Services include psychological evaluations, alcohol and drug treatment, family counseling, individual counseling, remedial education, vocational training, case management, and supervised recreation. 11
Special Services for Youth at Risk
  • In FY 2004, 15 states used $13 million in SSBG funds to help more than 162,239 youth at risk.

  • Support for youth at risk is often fragmented between the juvenile justice, mental health, and child welfare systems. SSBG allows states to cut across different systems and provide the help youth need. Services are targeted at youth who are, or may become, involved with the juvenile justice system, and their families. Designed to enhance family functioning and increase positive youth development, services include counseling, residential services, and medical care. 12

Sources

  1. Scarcella-Andrews, Bess, R., Zielewski, E., & Geen, R. (2006). The cost of protecting vulnerable children V: Understanding state variation in child welfare financing (Assessing the New Federalism Occasional Paper). Available online. Washington, DC: Urban Institute. back
  2. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (2006). Budget in brief: Fiscal Year 2007. Available online. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). back
  3. Bilchik, S., & Friedman, J. (2006, September 11). Joint CWLA-APHSA letter on SSBG. Available online. Washington, DC: Authors. back
  4. Administration for Children and Families (ACF). (2006). SSBG 2004: Annual report on expenditures and recipients, 2004. Available online. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). back
  5. Ibid. back
  6. Child Welfare League of America. (2006). Special tabulation of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System. Washington, DC: Author. back
  7. Ibid. back
  8. Administration for Children and Families (ACF). (2006). SSBG 2004: Annual report on expenditures and recipients, 2004. Available online. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). back
  9. Child Welfare League of America. (2006). Special tabulation of the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System. Washington, DC: Author. back
  10. Administration for Children and Families (ACF). (2006). SSBG 2004: Annual report on expenditures and recipients, 2004. Available online. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). back
  11. Ibid. back
  12. Ibid. back

CWLA Contact

Branden McLeod
703/412-3161



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