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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Child Welfare: Recent and Proposed Federal Funding

Emilie Stoltzfus
Specialist in Social Policy

Child welfare services and supports are intended to ensure and improve the safety, permanence, and well-being of children. This report describes the status of FY2012 appropriations and discusses the President’s FY2012 budget request for child welfare programs, as submitted to Congress on February 14, 2011. It compares that request to the funding levels under consideration by Congress for FY2012 and to the amount provided by Congress for those same programs for FY2011. Most child welfare programs are administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, a few are administered by the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

FY2012 began on October 1, 2011, and full-year appropriations legislation has not yet been enacted. Instead, Congress has continued funding via two short-term measures. The most recent (P.L. 112-36) extends funding through November 18, 2011. In general, that measure provides an annualized funding level for all child welfare programs with discretionary funding authorizations at close to 98.5% of what they each received in FY2011 (via P.L. 112-10). For programs that receive mandatory appropriations, it provides budget authority necessary to meet obligations of current law.

Although the details of the funding measures vary somewhat, full-year FY2012 appropriations legislation under consideration in the House (H.R. 3070 and H.R. 2596) and in the Senate (S. 1599 and S. 1572) would permit annual definite funding of a little more than $8.0 billion for the child welfare programs discussed in this report. By contrast, the President’s FY2012 budget seeks close to $8.3 billion for those programs. The primary difference in proposed funding levels is the President’s request for an additional $250 million to support the first year of a 10-year ($2.5 billion) legislative proposal for foster care reform. In that proposal, the Administration seeks, among other things, legislative authority to provide incentive funds to states to improve outcomes for children in, or at risk of entering, foster care. These incentives have not been authorized, however, and appropriations bills pending in the House (H.R. 3070) and Senate (S. 1599) would not provide funding for the foster care reform proposal.

The President’s FY2012 budget also calls for a five-year reauthorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program and assumes continued funding for the program and related activities at the level provided for FY2011. With the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act (P.L. 112-34), enacted September 30, 2011, Congress extended the mandatory funding authorization of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program for five years (FY2012- FY2016) at an annual level of $345 million. That amount is $20 million less than what was provided in FY2011. H.R. 3070, as introduced, and S. 1599, as reported to the Senate, would both provide $365 million in mandatory funding for this program, the same amount that was provided in FY2011. (However, those bills were introduced prior to enactment of P.L. 112-34.)

The President’s FY2012 budget requests somewhat more funding under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) ($97 million) than would be provided by H.R. 3070 ($85 million) or S. 1599 ($93 million). Additionally, the President proposes $50 million for Adoption Incentives, while H.R. 3070 and S. 1599 would maintain the FY2011 funding level of $39 million. In addition, the President seeks no FY2012 funding for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). By contrast, H.R. 2596 would provide $6 million for CASA and S. 1572 would provide $2.5 million. Table 1 in this report shows the share of dedicated child welfare funding provided by general category for recent years, including final funding for FY2011 and proposed funding for FY2012. Table 2 includes recent and proposed funding levels by child welfare program.

Date of Report: October 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 25
Order Number: RL34121
Price: $29.95

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