Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 7: 2/13/2006   
Headlines

President's FY07 Budget Targets SSBG, Continues Optional Foster Care Block Grant

President's Budget Proposal Leaves Little for Human Services

President's Budget Freezes Child Care and Head Start, Reduces Number of Children Served

Budget Signals Another Round of Cuts in Juvenile Justice

CWLA's Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



President's FY07 Budget Targets SSBG, Continues Optional Foster Care Block Grant

On February 6, the President sent his 2007 budget to Capitol Hill. In total, the federal budget proposal includes allocations of $2.7 trillion, an increase from $2.5 trillion from FY 2006. The budget also announces the federal deficit for the year will exceed $423 billion. In an effort to reduce the deficit, the President suggests reducing or eliminating more than 140 human service programs.

Two proposals in the President's budget would have a significant impact on states' abilities to provide services to abused and neglected children. The President proposes to cut $500 million from the Title XX Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), reducing funding from $1.7 billion to $1.2 billion. SSBG represents 12% of all federal funding to the states to provide child abuse prevention, adoption, foster care, child protection, independent and transitional living, and residential services for children and youth.

SSBG is the single largest federal funding source for child protective services providing these services to more than 1.3 million children. SSBG is also a major source of federal funding for domestic violence services to adults and the aged through Adult Protective Services, and it is an important source of funding for home and congregate meals, as well as special services to the disabled.

The President's budget justifies the SSBG cuts claiming they are necessary because "the flexibility of the SSBG makes it difficult to measure performance, and the breadth of services provided by SSBG funds can overlap with other flexible federal social services programs." Most states claim, however, that the flexibility of SSBG funds allows them to target the needs most greatly identified by states, and that SSBG is the "glue" that allows children and youth who move between the mental health, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems to be served.

The President's budget again proposes to remove the current federal guarantee for abused and neglected children who need foster care by capping, or block-granting, federal Title IV-E foster care funds. This cap, or block grant, would be offered as an option to states. States accepting the option would receive a total, and locked, level of Title IV-E foster care funds based on what the state was projected to receive from the federal government over five years. If a state agrees to the level of funding, it could spend up to 20% of its five-year allotment each year to spend on any child welfare service. States could not opt out of this proposal even if foster care caseloads increased.

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President's Budget Proposal Leaves Little for Human Services

Although the President's budget proposal increases federal funding from $2.5 trillion to $2.7 trillion, only 37% of the federal budget is set aside for discretionary spending that must be appropriated each year by Congress. The remaining portion represents funds obligated for entitlement programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This year, the President's budget proposes a 3.2% increase in discretionary spending, but all of that increase is absorbed by the defense and homeland security budgets, which will increase 7%. According to the Administration's proposed budget, slightly more than half of all discretionary funds ($503 billion) will be dedicated to defense. The nondefense, nonhomeland security discretionary portion totals $492 billion. The defense total includes $50 billion in supplemental funds to continue the war. Sometime this spring, the Administration is expected to request an additional $70 billion for the war and the military. Little congressional opposition to this the added defense allocation is expected.

Meanwhile, discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would decrease from $69.2 billion in 2006 to $67.6 billion for FY 2007. The President's budget recommends level funding for most other child welfare services, including the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) basic state grants ($27 million) for improving protective services, Title IV-E Child Welfare Services ($287 million), and CAPTA Community-based grants ($42 million). The President's budget does include increased funds for the Adoption Incentive Fund, from $17.8 million to $30 million.

Since Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance is an entitlement program, it's funding levels are set automatically based on the number of eligible children and are not included in this annual appropriations process. Federal spending for Title IV-E Foster Care is projected to increase to $4.8 billion, and Adoption Assistance is projected to increase to $2 billion.

The President's budget continues the increase in mandatory funding that was included in the deficit reduction bill passed earlier this month, which increased the mandatory portion of Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) funding by $40 million, bringing the mandatory total to $305 million. The discretionary portion of PPSF funding, however, decreases from $99 million to $89 million in FY 2006, and the President's budget recommends that same level.

The President's budget also decreases funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention grants, from $192 million to $181 million; funding for the Substance Abuse Treatment Programs decreases from $394 to $375 million, and the Mental Health Programs of Regional and National Significance would decrease from $263 million to $228 million.

Review the total list of budget funding levels for selected children's programs.
View a complete summary of the President's budget.

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President's Budget Freezes Child Care and Head Start, Reduces Number of Children Served

The President's proposed budget for FY07 freezes funding for both child care and Head Start at their final FY06 levels. In both instances, the proposed funding level for 2007 maintains the 1% across-the-board cuts imposed on all discretionary programs in 2005. Child care funding has absorbed across-the-board cuts for the past four years. Child care funding peaked at $2.1 billion in 2002; the proposed FY07 funding level is now $2.06 billion.

Funding for mandatory child care was increased by only $200 million in FY06 as part of the TANF and child care reauthorization Congress included in the budget reconciliation act. The mandatory and discretionary child care funds total just under $5 billion. The Administration's budget projects that the number of children receiving child care subsidies will decrease to 1.8 million by 2011, down from the 2.2 million children served currently. In fact, previous Administration budgets indicate the level of child care services peaked in 2000 at 2.4 million kids. If current funding and projections are correct, child care subsidies and services to children will have declined by 600,000 by the end of this decade.

Congress has made a practice of imposing across-the-board cuts to many human serve programs over the last four federal budgets. Each year, these across-the-board cuts have increased; in FY06, the cut was 1%. Unlike some other programs, Congress has incorporated the across-the-board cut in child care funding in following years.

Head Start funding was also cut last year by 1%. The President's budget would continue that reduced funding level ($6.7 billion) for FY07. According to estimates by the Head Start Association, the 2007 Head Start budget will result in loss of services to 19,000 children. This would continue a trend that started in 2003, when official enrollments declined from the 2002 peak year at 912,345 children. In 2004, the number had declined to 905,850. If the Head Start Associations projections continue, Head Start enrollment will fall well below 900,000 children by the end of this decade.

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Budget Signals Another Round of Cuts in Juvenile Justice

Under the President's budget proposal, overall funding for juvenile justice in FY07 would be cut 43% from FY06. This continues a trend in recent years of the Administration proposing deep cuts in juvenile justice that are partially accepted by Congress, resulting in steady erosion of federal support for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. Funding for juvenile justice programs in FY06 is barely half of what was provided in FY02.

This budget also proposes to eliminate the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG), just as the President's budget has each of the last three years. Congress has continued to reject this proposal, however, and it appropriated $49.5 million for JABG in FY06. This program, created in 1998, provides funds for implementing graduated sanctions programs, establishing or expanding substance abuse programs, and promoting mental health screening and treatment.

The President's budget includes funding of $32 million for the U.S. Department of Justice's local delinquency prevention program (Title V). This is a reduction from $64.3 million in FY06. Title V is the only federal funding source specifically targeted toward primary prevention and providing funding for programs aimed at youth who have not had contact with law enforcement but who are at high risk for engaging in unlawful activities. The budget does include funding for the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Block Grant, which has never received funding since its creation in 2002. The budget proposes $33.5 million in FY07.

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CWLA's Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

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Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

Preparations are under way for CWLA's 2006 National Conference, Securing Brighter Futures. February 27-March 1, CWLA will bring together leading child welfare practitioners, teachers, researchers, and advocates to Washington, DC, for three days of learning and sharing to best meet the needs of children in foster care.

CWLA's annual Hill Day gives conference attendees the opportunity to meet with members of Congress about the issues that affect the children, youth, and families we serve. Hill Day participants will learn about key children's issues facing Congress from leaders in the field, CWLA staff, and directly from policymakers. Members of Congress need to hear what their votes will mean for the children, youth, and families in your state and community. Make your voice heard at Hill Day 2006!

For more information about the 2006 conference, to see the presentations, and to register, visit CWLA's website.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

February 6 Release of President's FY 2007 budget

February 18-26 President's Day Recess

February 27-March 1 CWLA National Conference, Children 2006: Securing Brighter Futures

March 18-26 Congressional Spring Break


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