On Thursday, March 9, 2023, President Biden released his budget. It was a partial release with more details to be released this week. CWLA will have a more complete review later this week.

Overall, the Administration proposes increases in the human services areas of the budget and medical services while proposing a projected reduction in the deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade. The deficit reduction in the budget increases over time, with $500 billion of deficit reduction in 2033. Much of the reduction is provided through a series of tax increases and changes on higher income tax filers, by expanding the tax base and increasing income and capital gain taxes on businesses and individuals making more than $400,000 a year.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the Department of Health and Human Services covers a range of human service programs including all of child welfare programs.

The FY 2024 Administration budget seeks $94.4 billion for ACF an increase from FY 2023’s total of $71 billion. This figure is divided between $39 billion in discretionary (annually appropriated) funds and mandatory (including entitlements such as IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance) funds. The Administration repeats several of last year’s proposals on child welfare including an increased match for the Family First Prevention Services Act. It would increase to 90 percent and then in 2027 it converts to the higher of a 75 percent match or the Medicaid matching rate plus ten percent. The current match is fifty percent eventually rising to the Medicaid rate. They also repeat a proposal to increase in the federal match for IV-E eligible relative care placements in either foster care or kinship care while also decreasing the federal match for placements in Quality Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) by 5 percent.

According to the HHS data provided, an estimated 6,200 children were served in 2022 under the Family First Prevention Services Act. Last year’s budget estimates were 7,400 children in in FY 2021. They also project that by FY 2033, 672,500 children will be served by Family First Prevention Services. At the same time, they indicate that in FY 2020, the number of children placed in group homes totaled 15,975, and in institutions, 22,824. In FY 2021, the number of children placed in group homes totaled 15,432, and in institutions, 19,929.

Other items in the FY 2023 budget that will indirectly influence family and children’s services and, by extension child welfare, a proposed expansion of the early childhood education the budget including major increases for Head Start of $1.1 billion over the 2023 level ($13.1 billion), $9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of nearly $1 billion over the 2023 enacted level, and funding the Preschool Development Grants program at $360 million, an increase of $45 million over the 2023 enacted level.

Due to the split in party control of the two houses of Congress, many observers are projecting a very late budget or potentially a full 12-bill appropriations budget replaced by a year-long “continuing resolution” or “CR”. Such an action would likely mean much of the 2024 funding levels would be the same as 2023. How this is resolved will likely not be decided until late into the 2023 calendar year. The President’s budget is set to be released (according to the Budget Act) on the first Monday in February. That date is becoming increasingly unlikely with the last time an Administration meeting that deadline being in 2015 when the Obama Administration sending up the FY 2016 budget.