The Administration released their full 2018 budget on Tuesday, May 23, titled A New Foundation for American Greatness. The good news is that they do not propose converting Title IV-E into a block grant and most of the core discretionary funding for specific child welfare programs is at the same level as 2017.  The bad news is the rest of the budget.

For the child welfare community, the most significant piece (in addition to a Medicaid block grant) is that the Social Services Block Grant is eliminated and TANF is cut by more than $1.7 billion.

SSBG provided 11 percent of federal child welfare spending in 2014 (Child Trends Survey of states). At the same time, TANF provided 22 percent of federal child welfare spending, according to the same survey. As a result, a full 33 percent of federal child welfare spending would be severely cut or eliminated. In fact, the budget explanation indicates that since they propose to eliminate SSBG, the ten percent that is transferred from TANF to SSBG is the rationale for the cut to TANF.

While many in Washington are saying, this budget is “DOA” or dead on arrival, the President’s budget may be dead but the President’s proposals in the budget are very much alive.

The budget is filled with cuts that will undercut support for families and children, for example the Administration proposes:

  • Elimination of the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)
  • Elimination of the 21st Century Afterschool Learning Centers
  • Elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (HHS)
  • Elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (Housing)
  • The cuts to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) of $1.1 billion to the base grant of $16.5 billion and elimination of the $608 million contingency fund
  • Cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-food stamps) totaling $193 billion over ten years
  • Medicaid is converted into a per capita cap formula or an optional block grant

One area of child welfare discretionary spending that was cut is the funding in Adoption Opportunities (-$9 million).  The rational is the need to reduce funds spent on technical assistance although much of the Adoption Opportunities funding based on the statute is about technical assistance to promote adoptions for key goals such as minority adoptions and older child adoptions.  The Adoption Assistance, Foster Care and Kinship Care funding streams are adjusted upward or downward based on state claims and not conditioned on annual appropriations. They reflect increases in foster care over several years as well as the gradual delink of Adoption Assistance.

For a further examination of the budget in some of the key child welfare and children’s issues you can read a budget chart of key child welfare services and a more detailed description on this budget summary.

For now it is believed that the House Budget Committee will begin their work on a budget resolution laying out the level of cuts sometime in mid-June.  House Leaders, including Speaker Ryan, have all but made a pronouncement that there will be a continuing resolution to start the fiscal year on October 1.  See additional article below for further discussion on the budget.