Misguided Bill Would Eliminate Critical Child Welfare Funding
April 17, 2012 | Rutledge Q. Hutson
This post was updated April 20.
Tomorrow, the House Ways and Means Committee will consider a bill to eliminate the Social Service Block Grant (SSBG). This $1.7 billion flexible funding stream helps states provide a range of critical services to some of our nation's most vulnerable individuals, and is often used by states to fill gaps left by federal programs. For example, SSBG provides roughly 13 percent of all federal expenditures on child welfare in the nation.
Eliminating SSBG and cutting 13 percent of all federal spending on child welfare will hit abused and neglected children and those at risk of abuse or neglect hard. Even at present levels of spending from all federal, state and local sources, nearly 40 percent of maltreated children get no services at all following the investigation that determines they were maltreated - not counseling, not parenting education for their families, not foster care - nothing.
The Ways and Means Committee should not cut back already inadequate funding that provides vital services such as child welfare services. To do so would add insult to injury.
UPDATE: Wednesday the House Ways and Means Committee voted to eliminate SSBG and forwarded the recommendation to the Budget Committee for consideration. Given other actions in the House Budget Committee this week, it will likely adopt the measure. From there it will go to the House floor for a vote, where Congressional Republicans would likely pass it and continue to advance their odd notion of "shared sacrifice," under which the most vulnerable do all the sacrificing (as my colleague Elizabeth Lower-Basch noted in a post this week). The proposal to eliminate SSBG is unlikely to receive such a warm welcome from the Senate or the President.
CLASP hopes a truer notion of working together, sharing the burden and helping those in need will be the end result and SSBG will be preserved.