Some in Washington are advocating the elimination of SSBG as a way to fund child welfare services. The theory is that eliminating the $1.7 billion in SSBG dollars might free up some funds for child welfare and perhaps also cut federal spending at the same time. Such calculations however ignore the fact that SSBG funds a range of vital human services that may not be replaced in state budgets. Perhaps just as significantly, SSBG is a “mandatory” funding source meaning that it is not dependent on the annual appropriations, an annual process where the record for getting increased funding is extremely difficult.
In the last SSBG annual report for 2012, funds spent on foster care reached $394 million in combined SSBG/TANF dollars (state can transfer some TANF funds into SSBG) with SSBG providing $176 million of this total. This is not an insignificant total when you consider states spent $1.3 billion in maintenance payments through the main federal source of funding, Title IV-E foster care funding in that same year.
Child Protective Services (CPS) received $136 million in SSBG dollars and $331 million when TANF funding is included. Dollars provided through SSBG either alone or combined with the TANF transfer far exceeds what the Congress appropriates through the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which continues to decrease down to $25 million in FY 2014. CAPTA is dependent on annual appropriations.
SSBG also provides $73 million in prevention and intervention services serving more than 2 million children in duplicated counts.
Where elimination or “re-purposing” funding will hit is in a number of other areas. Outside of child welfare SSBG is a significant funder of domestic violence services at $197 million (very little TANF transfers dollars in this category). Over a half million adults (duplicated counts) receive services which are essentially for domestic violence and elder abuse services. Through this century the single biggest recipient of SSBG funding category is for special services for the disabled at $230 million from SSBG ($307 million with TANF) serving over 270,000 children and 640,000 adults.
Legislation has not yet introduced into this Congress but in the 112th and 113th congresses SSBG had been targeted for elimination through the budget process or as a funder for alternate services.