Once again SSBG is targeted for elimination and without any doubt, such an elimination would hit child welfare in ways big and small as well as many other human service programs including those that effect domestic violence and elder abuse victims.
SSBG provided 11 percent of federal child welfare spending in 2014 (Child Trends Survey of states). At the same time, TANF (which is also targeted for big cuts in the budget) provided 22 percent of federal child welfare spending, according to the same survey. The budget explanation for 2019 reflected that same basic rationale of last year which stated:
“The Budget proposes to eliminate the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) because it lacks strong performance measures, is not well targeted, and is not a core function of the Federal Government. States do not have to demonstrate that they are using funds effectively to continue receiving funding. In addition, SSBG funds services that are also funded through other Federal programs, such as early childhood education services funded through Head Start and child welfare services funded by Title IV-E programs.”
Last week, during a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the budget, with the new HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) asked the Secretary about the budget elimination of SSBG and inserted into the hearing record a new SSBG document produced by the National Association of County (NACO): SSBG: How the Block Grant Protects Families and Communities Impacted by the Opioid Epidemic.
The SSBG Coalition did have some success last year when House Leadership avoided using SSBG as an offset or pay for some important programs including home visiting and the Families First legislation. Despite this and the fact that the House is unlikely to get a joint budget resolution through the Senate, the elimination of SSBG in a budget document means it is on a list of tempting budget cutting targets. It is worth noting that SSBG suffered its most permanent and biggest cuts from $2.8 billion to $1.7 billion as a partial pay for in the 1998 highway reauthorization legislation in lieu of a gas tax increase.