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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Social Services Block Grant: Background and Funding

Karen E. Lynch
Analyst in Social Policy

The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a flexible source of funds that states use to support a wide variety of social services activities. States have broad discretion over the use of these funds. In FY2009, the most recent year for which expenditure data are available, the largest expenditures for services under the SSBG were for child care, foster care, and special services for the disabled.

The SSBG has received annual appropriations of $1.7 billion in every year since FY2002. Since FY2001, annual appropriations for the SSBG have included a provision stipulating that states may transfer up to 10% of their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to the SSBG. In addition to funding from annual appropriations, the SSBG received supplemental appropriations in FY2006 and FY2009 for necessary expenses resulting from natural disasters.

The FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2055, P.L. 112-74) again maintained SSBG funding at $1.7 billion. Prior to the enactment of this law, Congress had provided FY2012 funding for the SSBG under three continuing resolutions. In addition, both the House (H.R. 3070, H.R. 3671) and the Senate (S. 1599) had introduced full-year FY2012 appropriations bills which, if enacted, would have maintained SSBG funding at the $1.7 billion level. This is the same level of funding as the FY2012 President’s Budget requested for the SSBG. By contrast, the committee report (H.Rept. 112-58) accompanying the House-passed concurrent resolution on the FY2012 budget (H.Con.Res. 34) had recommended eliminating the SSBG in FY2012.

The SSBG is permanently authorized in Title XX of the Social Security Act (SSA). The 111th Congress amended Title XX of the SSA in the health care reform legislation signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L. 111-148). This law inserted a new subtitle on elder justice into Title XX, which was itself retitled as Block Grants to States for Social Services and Elder Justice. The health reform law also amended Title XX by establishing two demonstration projects to address the workforce needs of health care professionals and a new competitive grant program to support the early detection of medical conditions related to environmental health hazards.

The purpose of this report is to provide background and funding information about the SSBG.

Date of Report: January 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: 94-953
Price: $29.95

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