The just-signed appropriations had a number of improvements for a child welfare advocacy community that does not normally experience. Congress was not “budget neutral”, e.g. we will increase child welfare funding if we cut child welfare funding in other areas. The increase in CAPTA is in fact historic rising from an ever-eroding base of $25 million to $85 million. The increase was driven in large part by the spreading opioid epidemic which is driving up the number of infant born dependent and Congress’s mandates on HHS to make something of the plans of “safe care” requirements that have evolved over various reauthorizations and amendments to CAPTA. This time Congress heard that mandates would require new federal funds. It is the hope of the community including CWLA and our long-time and historic partners at the National Child Abuse Coalition that it lends itself to ongoing increases that can help to address many of the requirements under CAPTA including legal representation, reporting of child abuse and neglect as well as one of its key mandates: child abuse prevention.
In addition to CAPTA, $20 million was added for drug treatment funding through the Regional Partnership Grants (RPGs) as well as well as a $20 million in at-least temporary restoration of funding to Kinship Navigator programs. Both allocations came through an appropriation increase under Promoting Safe and Stable Families. Both were prompted by the opioid epidemic and prompted by a small coalition of groups led by the National Child Abuse Coalition that made a series of recommendations in a joint letter.
Other important increases include an increase in the Adoption Incentives Fund that was increased from $37 million to $75 million to help address a $50 million shortfall from the FY 2017 awards. The additional funds will make states whole for last year and leave $25 million for this September’s awards that may need additional funds in FY 2019 which likely won’t be decided until after this year’s election. That funding was the result of a Coalition led by Voice for Adoption and joined by CWLA. (Big thanks to CWLA members that responded to recent alerts).
Also of significance, increases of $10 million in the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, a slight increase to 21st Century Learning Centers to $1.211 million despite Administration goal to zero-out funding, an $8 million increase to the Runaway and Homeless Youth ($118 million), $15 million increase in the McKinney-Vento Homeless and Runaway Youth Education program ($85 million), $12 million more for Promise Neighborhoods and $12 million more for IDEA Part C for Infants and Toddlers. The budget also projects an increase in Title IV-E Foster Care from $4.9 billion in 2017 to $5.5 billion in 2018 and Adoption Assistances from $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion although in both cases it is not a budget request or appropriations, but a projection of the increased costs based on increasing number of children eligible and covered due to increasing caseloads. See a CWLA chart here.