Current funding for federal fiscal year ends on December 3, 2021, and while it appears likely Congress will pass another CR for a matter of weeks, a full year long appropriation adding new funds now seem much in doubt.
A CR that extended for the rest of FY 2022 means that there would be a spending freeze with all the significant child welfare funding increases washed away. That may be the strategy of Republican congressional leaders. The one thing that might deter such an effort is that Republicans leaders want Defense Department increases that exceed what Democrats have already proposed. That may not be enough of an incentive. Last week Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA), the Ranking Member on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee was quoted as saying, “We’ll walk away from the bill, and we’ll just go with a CR.” He said it in reaction to Democrats support for many of their domestic funding goals.
To get through the Senate requires 60 votes. In a letter released on Monday, November 15, 2021, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said, “I have made clear to my Republican counterparts that we are ready to negotiate in good faith, with the understanding that compromises on both sides will be needed to reach the bipartisan, bicameral agreement to complete this process.”
According to DeLauro, Republicans have demanded that the Democrats separate and recede on a number of policy issues before conference negotiations get underway. She says that this has not been the practice of past negotiating.
In July, the appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) was approved with $253 billion appropriations for the three departments passed out of full committee by a vote of 33 to 25.
Overall, the Administration received the backing for their requests in key children’s programs, including child welfare, and, in some areas, such as the Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA), they received more funding.
Within CAPTA, state grants receive $125 million, which is $5 million more than the Administration request, and a historic $35 million above the FY 2021 funding level for a program that suffered cuts through most of the last decade when it was at less than $27 million. The House also increased the CB-CAP program to $90 million, which is $10 million more than the Administration request and $30 million more than FY 2021. Finally, discretionary funding increases from the current $35 million to $42 million with $2 million of that for support and expansion of a national child abuse hotline, to increase outreach efforts and provide additional resources and intervention through multiple modalities, including chat, text, and call, to youth and concerned adults facing child abuse and neglect.
Other areas of increase and support for Biden Administration budget include a new $100 million to address racial inequity within child welfare through competitive grants; a significant increase of $9 million for the Family First Act Clearinghouse (up from $2 million) and $30 million for formula grants to states and tribal agencies to develop, enhance, or evaluate Kinship Navigator programs.
Although the House Committee report does not mention the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act (MEPA) and the need for improved efforts on the diligent recruitment of adoptive and foster families, the Committee does increase the Adoption Opportunities Act by $2 million, presumably for the Administration’s $2 million efforts in diligent recruitment for more diverse families for foster care and adoption.
Other items in the FY 2022 budget include a major $150 million initiative to address the social determinants of health (SDoH), building on a proposed expansion of early childhood education with major increases for Head Start ($1.4 billion)—which is $200 million above the Administration request, Child Care ($1.4 billion) and pre-kindergarten state grants ($175 million).
The Administration also gets its increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Infants and Toddlers (IDEA Part C) at $732 million, well above the $482 million pre-pandemic level of funding and an even bigger increase for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant going to $868 million which exceeds the 2021 level of $712 million.
The House designated $200 million through SSBG for a new diaper bank distribution grant program to provide much-needed resources to social service agencies or other non-profit organizations specifically for diaper and diapering supply needs. CWLA has lent its support to these diaper bank initiatives that had gained important attention during the pandemic. For an overall chart of some key child welfare and children’s program spending levels, go here.
The reality check here is that a CR means none of those increases happen and they stay at 2021 levels with historic increases wiped away.
There is talk that Democrats may offer up a CR that would expire just before the Christmas/New Year’s holidays adding pressure to get a deal. The other issue that needs to be resolved is an increase in the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin has indicated the debt ceiling may be reached on December 15, 2021. On Thursday there were some discussions between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) that some people read as a positive sign on a possible debt deal.