Last Monday, the President started the FY 2016 appropriations process when he sent to Congress his formal budget request. Although many observers like to describe such budgets as “dead on arrival” or DOA whenever there are two different parties controlling the White House and Congress it none-theless starts a process and sets goals in some areas. One of the key goals in the President’s budget is to do away with the current sequestration law which returns after a two year negotiated absence. The President would replace the current sequestration and caps with new budget spending targets. Under current budget agreements the budget spending targets for discretionary spending (that part that is decided by the congressional annual appropriations) is at $1.017 trillion for both domestic and defense spending. The President is requesting an increase of $74 billion, increasing discretionary spending to $1.091 trillion. To get there Congress would have to replace the spending cuts now embedded in law.
The Administration’s budget repeats some past children’s proposals of last few years including expansion of universal pre-kindergarten but it now includes a major expansion of child care to go along with the pre-k plan. The budget envisions an expansion of approximately $4 billion for child care matching funds and funds to expand child care quality and safety improvements. He also proposes a $1.5 billion increase for Head Start and Early Head Start.
In regard to child welfare there are several proposed increases in funding (see article below). In addition the budget includes a re-submission of a jointly funded demonstration project between the Administration on Children and Families (ACF) and the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that target better access to health care services framed around the goal of reducing the over use of psychotropic medication for children and youth in foster care. Another returning request in the budget is to use funding the states are required to collect through child support from parent(s) of children in foster care to be re-allocated or spent in the best interest for children in foster care.
There are also new initiatives of approximately $580 total over ten years to address family preservation (described as prevention) and post permanence services and proposing an initiative around reduced congregate care placements structured around increased oversight and expanded access through Title IV-E to greater wrap-around services. The Administration proposes a renewal of the Family Connection Grants at $15 million. They are also asking for $30 million through Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) to assist tribes and rural areas to expand and strengthen and increase capacity child welfare support services. There are in fact several initiatives to assist tribal communities.
The Administration proposes using CAPTA discretionary funding to fund competitive proposals to address trafficking and proposes a re-design of the $11 million Abandoned Infant program which is reauthorized as part of the CAPTA law.
For more information and detail go to CWLA Summary of President’s FY 2016 Budget