The appropriations discussions continued behind closed door last week with progress reportly limited. Although the February 9, budget agreement raised the caps on “non-defense” spending by approximately $60 billion (or more like $50 billion when matched against what was permitted in 2017), that non-defense includes the State Department, military construction and some veterans programs but it should free up some support for human services programs. But that may not be quite true if some behind the scenes reports are true.

CHIMPS may undercut that spending agreement especially for programs funded under HHS. What is CHIMPS? Aside from being a bad acronym, it means “Changes in Mandatory Programs.” These are programs written into law as mandatory funding such as last year’s CHIP program which has been reauthorized for ten years with spending set for each year. As a result it does not require an annual appropriations. In the CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) case the annual total of mandatory spending allowed is more than what states may draw down. As a result some money and programs like this leave money in Treasury and the appropriations committees projects this as a savings. The CBO may not have counted this as an actual savings but the committees will and this has, for many years, allowed them more room under the budget caps. Another example is the Crime Victims Fund which collects various criminal fines and forfeitures, but those funds are not all drawn down even when it funds programs such as Children’s Advocacy Centers and other victims’ rights programs.

The 2018 budget resolution limited these CHIMPS allocations to no more than $17 billion, down from the $19 billion allowed in FY 2017. There is talk that House Republicans in particular, are pushing for big reductions perhaps by as much as $3 billion down to $14 billion. If this happens it would greatly affect the budget deal negotiated and passed on February 9, 2018. Potentially it may mean that the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittees will be stuck with a great deal less funding.

Part of that funding is designated for child care spending, $2.9 billion in appropriations funding that will double current child care funding (CCDBG) something that CWLA has supported and another $3 billion that was agreed to address opioids. The opioids are much more difficult to measure. At least five subcommittees and departments will get a piece of that including HHS, Homeland Security, and Justice.

CWLA and other child welfare advocates are looking for increased funding under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) for the development and implementation of plans of safe care that are mandated under that law as well as funding increases under Title IV-B Child Welfare Services. Safe Care Plans are to address the needs of children born exposed to substances. The Child Welfare Services increases would be to fund programs that could assist states in expanding services that may be available under the services part of the new Families First Act. The letter can be read here.

CWLA is also working with the adoption community to address a shortfall in the adoption-kinship incentive fund. Last year states earned $55 million in adoption and kinship incentives ($47 million was for adoptions), but HHS only had $5 million leftover to fulfill the 2016-based awards with FY2017 appropriations. States are still owed $50 million for last year’s 2017 results. In the last several budgets, appropriations have been the same $38 million. That would mean that when the FY 2018 awards are announced in late September there will be less than zero funds available, unless appropriators make it up with the final 2018 appropriations.

If the CHIMPS cap is lowered it will make some or all of these targets hard to address.

While members work out the final details for FY 2018, House and Senate offices have also been given deadlines for submitting their requests for FY 2019 appropriations. That deadline is March 16 in the House and March 26 in the Senate. It is assumed that final 2018 appropriations will be done by then.

For a CWLA summary of key programs go here.

For a CWLA chart of spending go here.

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