The criticism of SSBG leveled by some members of Congress and even a few advocates in recent years has been that it lacks accountability and outcomes. One legislative committee report described it as “no-strings-attached slush fund for states with no accountability…Ending this program …continues efforts to focus limited taxpayers’ dollars on outcomes, not inputs, of welfare programs to ensure they are effectively helping low-income families.”
The fate of one state as documented by a recent Washington Post article juxtaposed against its use of SSBG to address child welfare highlights just how extreme the elimination of SSBG would be to some of the country’s most vulnerable children and families.
In the Saturday, March 5, 2016 edition of the Washington Post, the newspaper outlined in detail the budget crisis now confronting the state of Louisiana:
“Already, the state of Louisiana had gutted university spending and drained rainy-day funds. It had cut 30,000 employees and furloughed others. It had slashed the number of child-services staffers, including those working in foster family recruitment, and young abuse victims for the first time were spending nights at government offices.”
The article goes on to say that the state still needs $3 billion, almost $650 per person just to maintain regular services over the next 16 months. The head of the state’s Department of Children and Families, Marketa Garner Walters, says, that if the state cannot raise revenue her agency’s budget will be cut by another 60 percent. The article details how that department went from 5,000 employees in 2008 to 3,400, now and…”social workers began carrying caseloads heavier than national standards advise. The state also cut funding for youth services and mental health treatment.”
If Congress were to eliminate SSBG here is what Louisiana would lose in federal funding based on the 2012 National SSBG annual report and confirmed most recently by the state report filed covering the July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015 reporting period:
- $10.5 million for Child Protective Services covering 47,100 children
- $19.2 million for Foster Care covering 7,900 children
- $3.5 million for Adoptions covering 3,500 children
- $5.2 million for prevention and intervention of child abuse covering 6,300 children and 3,200 adults
- $1.2 million for Independent Living and Transition for 305 adults under 59
Louisiana is not alone. CWLA has found over the past decades that SSBG consistently provides the most federal funding from any federal source for child protection (CPS). Usually more than 35 states each year depend on SSBG to provide the basic services of investigating when a child has been abused and provide services in those cases were child maltreatment has been confirmed. There are also another 30 to 40 states that supplement their foster care systems each year with SSBG dollars and another two dozen states that support adoption services. There are also a range of other services such as Louisiana’s use of funds for transitional services for youth and prevention services both for the child and the parent.
For a majority of states SSBG is a critical part of the child welfare patchwork. Even in states like Florida that touts its use of a waiver of Title IV-E funding, the waiver is almost equal to the amount of funding that state uses from SSBG: approximately $157 million in waiver funds to $147 million in SSBG funding (FY 2010).
In other states such as New York, SSBG is critical to domestic violence services, many states use it to supplement senior meals and in-home senior services and still others states such as Montana use SSBG for the disabled of all ages.