Children’s Budget Summit Encourages Investment in Children
The “Children’s Budget 2012” report, released by First Focus on June 27th at its Children’s Budget Summit, tracked increases and decreases in federal spending on children since 2008 and contended there is an underinvestment in children, including cuts to child abuse prevention, protective services, and other discretionary spending. Similarly, Child Trends examined state funding streams for child abuse and neglect in its recently released report, “Federal, State, and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect in SFYs 2008 and 2010,” and found that states are relying more heavily on block grants and their Medicaid expenditures are decreasing. Both reports help inform policymakers on current trends in child welfare funding, and the First Focus report recommends a more active federal investment in children.
First Focus Report Shows Underinvestment in Children
The Children’s Budget 2012 report reviewed federal funding for child welfare programs, and noted that:
- Discretionary spending on child welfare has decreased for programs like the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), child welfare state grants, and Promoting Safe and Stable Families.
- The Budget Control Act (BCA), which will apply major cuts to many programs unless amended by January 2013, could cut up to four billion dollars from children’s education and early childhood care.
- The proposed House budget, which would replace the BCA, would turn the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which funds food stamps, and Medicaid into block grants and cut investments in kids by $250 billion over ten years.
- Funding for most discretionary programs for child welfare was not adjusted to inflation, which amounts to a cut.
First Focus emphasized the federal government’s underinvestment in children at the Summit and in the report. At the Summit, First Focus contrasted the eight percent of federal funding apportioned to children’s spending with survey results that indicate voters want 31 percent of the federal budget to be spent on children. As the report notes, children’s spending as a share of the federal budget has not increased in proportion with other programs.
Child Trends Examination Finds States Using Multiple Sources to Fund Child Welfare
A recent report by Child Trends discerned some trends in state funding for programs that address child abuse and neglect:
- States increased their funding by five percent between 2006 and 2010, but local funding decreased by 23 percent. For the first time since the start of the survey program in 1996, the proportion of expenditures by states exceeded the proportion of expenditures by the federal government in 2008. This reverted to previous levels by 2010.
- Title IV-E still comprises more than half of federal funding for child welfare.
- Title IV-E adoption assistance payments exceeded foster care payments in 2008 and 2010.
- Most states use Title IV-E to subsidize school transportation to maintain school stability.
- Forty percent of ineligibility for Title IV-E was caused by parent’s income.
- State expenditures from Medicaid sharply decreased both in absolute dollars and as a share of federal spending. Child Trends speculated that states may have eliminated targeted case management or found other funding for rehabilitative services, possibly in anticipation of cuts.
- Medicaid, when used, is most commonly applied to rehabilitative services.
States relied more heavily on funding streams that were not dedicated to child welfare, such as the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), despite Child Trends’ expectation that the recession would increase competition for the funds. Child Trends speculated that states’ increased reliance on these funds indicated that states were either participating in nontraditional activities requiring flexible spending, such as preventative services, or applying these funds to traditional programs to adjust for decreasing Title IV-E eligibility.
Children’s Budget Summit Recommends an Increase in Federal Spending
Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) spoke at the Children’s Budget Summit that presented the First Focus report, and said that “federal investments in our kids can help alleviate poverty.” Rep. DeLauro contrasted the fact that 75 percent of food stamp recipients have children with the recent cut of $33 billion from SNAP. She also compared the upcoming expiration of a child tax credit that would thrust two million children into poverty to an “impending epidemic.”
New York Times columnist David Brooks also spoke at the Summit and examined the disconnect between how much voters and members of Congress value the welfare of children and how difficult it is to achieve legislative action in this field. He recommended a shift in culture, from arguing about compassion alone to a fiscally responsible language of dynamism, growth, and investment in kids. As he had suggested before, Brooks also called for Southern evangelicals and urban liberals to work together to fight poverty and promote children’s issues.
About the Author
Katherine Astrich is senior vice president of public policy and mobilization for the Alliance and UNCA.
She previously worked as a consultant for The Lewin Group, a national health and human services consulting firm. She has advocated for Medicaid, early education, and workforce assistance programs that benefit vulnerable children and families.
Her expertise includes regulatory and information collection policy. She also has eight years of experience working for the Office of Management and Budget. ... more
About the Author
Cecilia Fiermonte is director of child welfare policy at the Alliance. An attorney, she previously was assistant director at the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, advocating for policy change and providing training and technical assistance.
She also previously:
- Supervised the child welfare program of the County Attorney's Office in Wyoming County, N.Y.
- Worked in research and evaluation at the Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children
- Represented children in family court matters ... more