The Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) is a combination of funding streams for different but related services. Like Title IV-B part 1, Child Welfare Services (CWS), PSSF was reauthorized in 2014 as part of the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. In FY 2017, the President is requesting PSSF funding at the same levels for the four basic services and the court funding but has added some additional request for separate purposes.
PSSF through set-asides and specific allocations of mandatory funding provides approximately $30 million in court improvement initiatives. Because of the way the program is funded and because of the way that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculates or “scores” the cost of the programs under bipartisan rules, continuing the basic funding for services will not be considered a new cost but to continue the court funding could be scored as costing as much as $30 million per year or $150 million over 5 years. Five years ago Congress addressed what was then scored as a $10 million a year cost by simply taking (cutting) funds from basic services and keeping court costs level.
The funding for the original PSSF program has been divided into four broad categories: family preservation, family support, family reunification and adoption services. In addition, a portion of PSSF funding ($30 million) is allocated for court improvement programs. Furthermore, $20 million is designated for competitive grants to address substance abuse, while another $20 million is set aside for workforce development. These workforce grants are allocated to states if they meet a requirement to visit children in foster care at least once a month.
In 2016, PSSF receives $345 million in mandatory funding as well as an additional allocation of discretionary spending of $59 million. Currently in 2016, after allocating for the various funding categories and combining mandatory and discretionary spending, the approximate totals for FY 2016 is: $335 million for the four main services, $30 million for Court Improvement, $20 million for competitive grants to address substance abuse, and $20 million for workforce improvements.
If Congress does what it did five years ago and takes $30 million from the core programs to address the costs of the court program that could reduce core services down to $305 million.