The Senate gave final approval to an omnibus appropriations bill on Thursday, May 4. The legislation was unveiled Monday and moved quickly through the process. As a result, we are now finished with FY 2017 which ends on September 30, 2017. After the unveiling the fight turned to who won and who lost. The President at first complained about the final deal and called for a government shutdown in September as a result. He quickly changed direction and later touted the deal. Unlike the health care debate, Congressional leaders needed Democratic votes at least in the Senate, as a result much of the Administrations requests were jettisoned. The House of Representatives is off this week but when they return the Administration should be releasing their full budget proposal for 2018. Earlier this year they released a “skinny” budget that provided overall department cuts but lacked a lot of detail. The full budget should include budgets and appropriations program by program and line by line. That will likely include numerous program cuts and eliminations.
For 2017 however, all key child welfare programs remained at current funding levels that have been set for several years. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) state grants remained at $25.3 million, discretionary funds remained at $33 million and the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) remained at $39.7 million. The Adoption-Kinship Incentive fund remained at $37.9 million and the Adoption Opportunities Act remained at $39 million. Child Welfare Services (Title IV-B part 1) stayed at $269 million. A temporary significant victory however was the short-term continuation of Court Improvement Program (CIP) funding at $30 million. Because the two Title IV-B programs (Child Welfare Services, part 1 and Promoting Safe and Stable Families, part 2) have not been reauthorized, the CIP could have lost $20 million in mandatory funds. Instead appropriators provided a temporary patch through the end of the fiscal year. The vital entitlement funds of Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Subsidized Guardianships (kinship care) do not require an annual appropriation and as a result respond to need and are projected to increase.
Beyond the specific child welfare programs there were some significant advances which led Democrats to claim victory. Last week the Administration had conceded on the need to cut domestic spending to get to the $15 billion increase in the defense budget—although they did get the increased defense spending. The funding came from a contingency fund. There was also a deal to provide approximately $1.5 billion in domestic non-defense spending. Of bigger significance was the Administration dropping their demands for initial boarder wall funding but they did get some boarder security funding. Throughout the budget there were also some funding increases which seemed to send a message that Congress will reject many of the President’s upcoming proposed budget cuts for FY 2018.
The 21st Century afterschool program which is targeted for elimination in 2018, received an actual increase to $1.19 billion. Similarly, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which is targeted for a huge cut of $6 billion in 2018 received a $2 billion increase. Throughout the bill there is significant funding or even increases for items such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Libraries and Museums, the Community Development Block Grant and several other programs targeted for elimination in 2018.
In terms of children there were slight increases for Head Start, child care, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, and the McKinney-Vento Homeless Children and Youth block grants. The final budget number are on the CWLA Final Budget Chart for 2017.