While much of children’s and child welfare programs were level in funding there were some key targets and cuts. This included the Senate elimination of the Abandoned Infants funding (zeroed out all $11 million) and both the House and Senate made severe cuts to teen pregnancy prevention. See budget chart here.
The Administration in their February budget had proposed reforms or refinements in the Abandoned Infant program to better target services to infants and toddlers but instead of refinements or keeping the funding it is zeroed out in the Senate bill. The report indicates that the Senate Committee dropped the funding because the Administration proposed changing the mission and use of the funds to better target infants. The Senate report indicates they will await a reauthorization. The program is reauthorized along with CAPTA and several other programs but that is unlikely to happen this year. The original law was created at the height of the crack and aids epidemics of the 1980s when some infants were being abandoned in different settings. The intent was to assist states in creating programs that could allow the relinquishment of infants in a way that would assure the infant’s safety and protection. The House bill keeps the $11 million. If funding is dropped it would be highly unlikely for a future Congress to restore funding since this line of CAPTA-authorized programs rarely get increases from appropriators.
Both bills also go after teen pregnancy prevention. Teen pregnancy rates have dropped dramatically in the United States over the past decade and a half but despite the successes the US is still far behind most other advanced nations. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) has been structured in a way similar to the home visiting program (MEICHV) in that it requires states to allocate funding to recognized evidence-based programs. Despite these factors the Senate reduces TPPP from $101 million to $20 million while the House Appropriations eliminates all $101 million. Both bills allocate more funding for abstinence education ($20 million-Senate/$10 million-House)
In terms of overall child welfare spending, under Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) state grants ($25.3 million), discretionary grants ($28.7 million), were both level along with the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention or CB-CAP ($39.7 million) and the the Adoption Opportunity Act ($39 million). Under Title IV-B, Child Welfare Services ($268 million), Promoting Safe and Stable Families ($59 million in discretionary) are both the same as FY 2015. The Adoption/Kinship Incentive funds ($37 million), and Runaway and Homeless Youth ($97 million) are also at the ’15 level but the Senate does allocate $2 million for a study and survey of the homeless youth population.
In regard to the entitlement the appropriations bills merely restate projected growth or decreases. The Senate bill is consistent with the Administration’s budget projections which show an increase in foster care funding from just under $4.3 billion to just over $4.7 billion. In part the increase is a response to a projected increase of 6,000 more children in foster care rising to 168,000—the numbers reflect only those foster care children who are covered by federal IV-E dollars through the AFDC link. The House bill, in what has to be a drafting error, projects $4.9 billion but that figure reflects what the Administration had included when and if their new foster care proposals were enacted. Both bills project Adoption Assistance at $2.5 billion and kinship/guardianship at $123 million. Both are projected increases and are likely to change either up or down based on future state draw-downs.