Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee acted on their Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations and sent it on to the Senate floor for future consideration. On the other side of the Capitol Building, the House Appropriations Committee once again delayed action on the Labor-HHS-Education bill reported out by the Subcommittee. Their bill for FY 2019 has been delayed twice and there was a lack of clarity as to why it was delayed again.

The Senate bill includes continued funding for CAPTA Plans of Safe Care and funds the state grants at $85 million. The Committee emphasizes the need to fund and implement CAPTA mandated “plans of safe care.” The Senate continues the increase in Adoption-Kinship Incentive funds at the elevated level of $75 million first increased in the March-2018 appropriations. In addition, the Senate continues to provide an extra $20 million for the Regional Partnership Grants (RPGs) for expanded substance abuse treatment. The $20 million continues what had been approved for FY 2018 when it was enacted last March. The $20 million is in addition to the fixed $20 million in RPGs that are embedded into the Promoting Safe and Stable Families block grant (PSSF). This $20 million however appears to dovetail with opiods legislation now working its way through the Senate to fund additional family-based treatment that allows children to stay with the parent undergoing treatment. The report language states:
“Family- focused residential treatment programs are…residential programs primarily for substance use disorder treatment for pregnant and postpartum women and parents and guardians that allow children to reside with their mothers, parents, or guardians during treatment to the extent appropriate and applicable. Organizations applying for this funding should be allowed to apply to operate one or both programs.”

The Committee also continues funding for $20 million in Kinship Navigator programs. These grants were also included in the March 2018 appropriations. It is a unique fund in that it will continue to go to all 50 states and the District of Columbia as well as the Tribal communities that are drawing down their own Title IV-E foster care funds. It too is designed to expand the base of practice and models that will be eligible for the Family First Act funding.

The House report includes continued funding for CAPTA state grants at $85 million and a slight increase in the Adoption-Kinship Incentives Fund at $80 million, an increase from the $75 million total which in and of itself was an increase to address the recent shortfall in incentive payments to states. The added funding from 2018 and in 2019, if approved in a final deal, should help to fully fund what states have earned.

In other parts of the child welfare and child abuse prevention arena, the House bill drops the temporary increase in funding of $20 million for Regional Partnership Grants (RPGs) and they also drop the $20 million that was provided to all states for Kinship Navigator programs.

In neither bill did Congress increase funding for the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) program although CWLA and a few other organizations like Prevent Child Abuse America sought the increase in funding to address primary prevention services to address and prevent child abuse.

Presumably the House will act on their bill when they return in July. The Senate has been attempting to move their 12 appropriations bills in bundles of three (mini-bus). This strategy may lead to a joint Defense-Labor-HHS bill. The President, however, has suggested he may seek a government shutdown if he doesn’t get funding for the border wall. In all likelihood Labor-HHS and probably Defense won’t be decided until after the November elections.