Eliminating Social Services Block Grant Would Weaken Services for Vulnerable Children, Adults, and Disabled

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By Indivar Dutta-Gupta, LaDonna Pavetti, and Ife Finch

May 3, 2012

To help generate the savings required by the House-approved budget, the House Ways and Means Committee voted on April 18 to eliminate the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), a uniquely flexible funding source that helps states meet the specialized needs of their most vulnerable populations, primarily low- and moderate-income children and people who are elderly or disabled (see Figure 1 and Appendix A).[1]

States use the $1.7 billion-a-year grant to support services designed to help people become more self-sufficient by providing child care assistance, prevent and address child abuse, and support community-based care for the elderly and disabled. Roughly 23 million people — about half of them children — receive services funded in whole or part by the SSBG.[2]

States are in no position to replace lost SSBG funds by increasing their own funding.  States have imposed nearly $300 billion in spending cuts over the past five years to close recession-induced budget gaps, affecting public services ranging from education to health care to human services.[3]   Any additional cuts imposed to make up for the loss of SSBG funds would likely come at the expense of services that states have already weakened significantly.

In addition, while most states have augmented their SSBG allotments by transferring some funds from their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs, TANF is not a realistic source of funding to replace the SSBG.  Federal TANF funding itself is shrinking — the TANF block grant has declined by 30 percent in inflation-adjusted terms since its creation in 1996, and this year Congress failed to fund TANF Supplemental Grants for 17 mostly poor states[4] — and a number of states have cut back on cash assistance for very poor families with children and on TANF-funded services to help poor mothers find and retain jobs.[5]

House Republican leaders have defended their support for eliminating the SSBG by arguing that it is “duplicative of other federal programs,” but this is misleading.  Congress designed the SSBG as a flexible source of funding that states can tailor to their own needs and priorities; states use SSBG funds to provide services for which there is no dedicated funding stream or where funding is inadequate.  Child care is a good example:  the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s recent comprehensive survey of duplication and overlap in the federal government — which makes no mention of any duplication related to the SSBG —found that despite the various funding streams used to support child care services, there is insufficient funding to serve all eligible families.[6]     Estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services indicate that only one in six low-income working families eligible for federally supported child care assistance actually receives it.[7]   Eliminating the SSBG would worsen that shortage.

Another defense offered for the proposed cut — that the SSBG supports services for many people who are not needy — is similarly flawed.  The broad purposes for which states can use SSBG funds — promoting self-sufficiency, protecting adults and children from neglect and abuse, and helping elderly and disabled individuals remain in their homes — all concern helping people who are clearly vulnerable and in need.  While precise national data are not available (because federal law doesn’t require their collection), it is widely recognized in the states that the SSBG overwhelmingly supports services for low- and moderate-income families and individuals and focuses on lower-income communities.  Moreover, SSBG-funded services like child care assistance (as distinguished, for example, from services to prevent or address child abuse), often have state-imposed income limits.  For example, eligibility for child care in most states is at or below two-thirds of the state median income.

The vote to eliminate the SSBG continues a troubling recent trend in the House of cutting or eliminating programs that help vulnerable people. The House budget requires the Ways and Means Committee to find $53 billion in savings over ten years. The Committee has the tax code within its jurisdiction, including about $1 trillion a year in tax expenditures, many of which are heavily weighted toward upper-income households[8] . Yet it chose not to obtain any of its required savings by narrowing tax breaks, regardless of their merits. Instead, it found $68.2 billion in cuts — more than the required savings — exclusively from programs designed to help low-income, uninsured, and otherwise vulnerable people.[9]
 

Background

Policymakers created the SSBG in its current form in 1981, primarily as a cost-saving measure; it consolidated several smaller funding streams in which the federal and state governments shared costs and reduced overall federal funding for these programs by 20 percent, from $2.99 billion to $2.4 billion. (The federal government has a long history of funding social services that predates the creation of the SSBG. The first services were funded in the mid-1950’s and they were added to the Social Security Act, as Title XX, in 1975.)[10]

The SSBG provides states important flexibility. The SSBG is not limited to narrow, federally defined services or populations; states can use SSBG funds to provide services that help achieve any of the program’s goals — reducing dependency and promoting self-sufficiency; protecting children and adults from neglect, abuse, and exploitation; and helping individuals who are unable to take care of themselves to stay in their homes or to find the best institutional arrangement. States can decide what services to support with SSBG funds and what populations to serve, and can refocus their SSBG expenditures over time as their populations’ needs change.

Although the SSBG has received bipartisan support from governors and members of Congress (see the box on page 6), it has lost 77 percent of its value since 1981, due to inflation, funding freezes, and budget cuts (see Figure 2). Between 1982 and 1996, funding fluctuated between $2.4 billion and $2.8 billion in nominal dollars. The 1996 welfare law cut the SSBG by 15 percent in nominal terms — from $2.8 billion to $2.38 billion — for fiscal years 1997 through 2002, while calling for its budget authority to return to $2.8 billion for fiscal year 2003 and thereafter. Instead, however, Congress cut the SSBG further to $1.7 billion for fiscal year 2001, where it has remained ever since.[11]

SSBG funding is allocated to states, the District of Columbia, and the territories based on population (see Appendix B).[12] States can also transfer up to 10 percent of their federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant funds to the SSBG; they can use the transferred TANF funds only for families with children whose incomes are below 200 percent of the poverty line. States transferred $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2010, a modest fraction of the amount that SSBG funding has been reduced in real terms over recent decades. The transferred funds account for a little more than 40 percent of SSBG expenditures. (Unless otherwise noted, all figures in this paper refer to federal SSBG funds and do not include state-transferred TANF funds.) Nearly all SSBG funds go to provide services to individuals in need — only 3 percent of the total SSBG funds (federal and TANF transfers) and 4.3 percent of the federally allocated SSBG funds go to administrative costs.[13]

Eliminating the SSBG Likely Would Reduce Critical Services for Populations with Unique Needs

  • Ending the SSBG very likely would reduce funding for services that protect elderly adults from harm and help them stay in their own homes.  Services for vulnerable and elderly adults accounted for 27 percent of SSBG expenditures in fiscal year 2009; 44 states used SSBG funds for this purpose, and four states used at least half of their SSBG funds to provide these services (See Figure 1 and Appendix C).

    Services for vulnerable and elderly adults are more dependent on SSBG funds than any other service that the SSBG supports.  For example, in fiscal year 2009, SSBG funds accounted for 72 percent of the total funding states report for adult day care services, which help elderly adults to stay in their own homes rather than have to enter more costly institutional facilities.  SSBG funds also accounted for 40 percent and 39 percent, respectively, of funding for adult foster care and adult protective services, which help address abuse and exploitation of older adults.[14]   In addition, the SSBG is an important source of funding for nearly half of state aging agencies, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute.[15]
  • Eliminating the SSBG likely would create significant service gaps for children who have experienced or are at risk of abuse or neglect.  In fiscal year 2009, about one-quarter of federal SSBG funds were used to assist children involved in (or at risk of being involved in) the child welfare or juvenile justice systems or to provide adoption services; 44 states used SSBG funds for this purpose, and 16 states used at least half of their SSBG funds for it (see Figure 1 and Appendix C).

    >Within the complex system of federal, state, and local child welfare financing, SSBG funds play a critical role in augmenting other more restrictive child welfare funding streams.  For example, they fill a significant gap in foster care funding for children who cannot be cared for in their own homes and need to be placed in foster care.  Nationally, in 2010, only 44 percent of children in foster care met the outdated eligibility criteria for federal funding under Title IV-E (Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance).[16]   States receive federal Title IV-E funding only for children whose parents would have been eligible for benefits from the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children as that program existed on July 16, 1996, almost 16 years ago.[17]   SSBG funds are also used to provide other services for at-risk children and youth.  For example, they are used to provide in-home services to families so that out-of-home placements can be prevented and to provide residential care for children and youth whose problems are so severe that they cannot easily be cared for by family members at home or in foster care.
  • Without the SSBG, fewer families will receive counseling and support services that can help protect children from negative outcomes.  In fiscal year 2009, 13 percent of SSBG funds went to provide counseling, supportive services, and case management for vulnerable children and adults; 36 states used SSBG funds for this purpose, and three states used more than half of their funds for it (see Figure 1 and Appendix C).  A Child Trends study found that children and adolescents from disadvantaged families were less likely to act out, display symptoms of depression, or be held back in school if their mothers reported having emotional support for childrearing.[18]   The SSBG’s flexibility enables states to provide this type of support to families, especially those whose needs are significant but not so severe as to qualify them for state mental health or child welfare systems. 

SSBG Has Had Bipartisan Support from Policymakers

Policymakers of both parties have expressed support over the years for a congressional commitment to stable funding for the SSBG, and opposition to proposed cuts.

  • “Over the past few years, SSBG has taken more than its share of cuts in federal funding. As part of the 1996 welfare reform deal, Congress made a commitment to Governors that SSBG would be level funded at $2.38 billion each year. In fact, Governors reluctantly accepted a 15 percent cut in SSBG funds at that time in exchange for the commitment for stable funding in the future. However, repeated cuts in SSBG have been enacted regardless of that commitment.”   — 1999 letter to the Senate from Utah governor Mike Leavitt (R), Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R), Maryland governor Parris Glendening (D), and North Carolina governor James Hunt (D).
  • “Governors from both parties have long recognized the critical role Title XX [i.e., SSBG] funding plays in supporting families. . . . Cutting funding for services that keep people in their communities and out of expensive institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes is shortsighted and will lead to unnecessary suffering as well as increased spending in other federal programs.”  — 2000 letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education from 26 Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives
  • Governors view SSBG as one of the highest priorities among human service programs, and are adamantly opposed to further reductions in funding, such as those approved by the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee. Such a drastic reduction in the federal commitment to SSBG will cause a dramatic disruption in the delivery of the most critical human services.”  — 2000 letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee from Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) and North Carolina governor James Hunt (D)
  • The loss of SSBG funds would worsen the already severe shortage of child care assistance for low-income families.  In fiscal year 2009, some 6 percent of SSBG funds were used to provide child care to low-income families; 30 states used federal SSBG funds for this purpose.  Twenty-two states had waiting lists for child care assistance or turned away some families requesting help in 2011, according to the National Women’s Law Center.[19]   Department of Health and Human Services data indicate that only one in six low-income children who may be eligible for child care subsidies under federal law actually receive it.[20]   Given that demand for child care assistance already far exceeds the supply, the loss of SSBG funding would further limit states’ ability to help working-poor families and families that are looking for work in order to become self-sufficient.
  • Some individuals living with a disability likely would lose access to services that improve their quality of life and help them remain in the community.  About 14 percent of SSBG funds went to services for disabled individuals in fiscal year 2009; 22 states used SSBG funds for this purpose, and four states used more than half of their funds for it.  SSBG-funded services, which include mobility training for blind or visually impaired individuals and respite care for families caring for a disabled family member, help disabled individuals live as independently as possible.

SSBG Also a Useful Tool for Disaster Response

The SSBG has served as a conduit for emergency appropriations to help residents and communities respond to the additional social service and health needs resulting from natural disasters, such as floods, wildfires, and hurricanes.

For example, in response to the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes — including Hurricane Katrina —Congress provided an additional $550 million in emergency funding to states via SSBG for use by public, non-profit, and private entities to repair, renovate, or construct health care facilities, among other purposes.  The funds were disbursed promptly — within two monthsa — and SSBG’s flexibility allowed states to streamline eligibility for services funded by the emergency appropriations.  Eliminating SSBG could make it harder to provide this sort of flexible human services funding in the face of emergencies.

a Social Service Block Grant Program Annual Report 2009, Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html.

Arguments for Eliminating the SSBG Are Flawed

In their explanation for eliminating the SSBG, the House Republican leadership claimed that “Many of the services funded by the SSBG are duplicative of other federal programs.”[21]   This criticism misses the mark; the SSBG is a flexible funding stream but is hardly duplicative.  As noted above, states use SSBG funds to provide services for which there is no dedicated funding stream or where funding is inadequate.  States also use SSBG funds to serve people who, despite their clear need and often desperate circumstances, do not meet the criteria for other, narrowly designed federal funding streams.

The SSBG’s flexibility allows states to serve populations that have unique social service needs without creating a myriad of special programs, each with its own complex eligibility rules.  It also allows states to tailor services to their particular demographics:  states with large elderly populations can devote more of their SSBG funds to help elderly individuals stay in their own homes, for example, while states with more low-income and vulnerable children can use more of their funds to provide child care or more adequately fund their child welfare systems.

It is noteworthy that the Government Accountability Office’s recent comprehensive survey of duplication and overlap in the federal government makes no mention of any duplication related to the SSBG.[22]  In fact, the report’s only mention of the SSBG is in its discussion of child care, where its primary finding is that there is insufficient funding to serve all eligible families, despite the multiple funding streams used to support child care services.  In other words, there is too little, not too much child care assistance available.  Eliminating the SSBG would worsen the problem.

House Republican leaders have also implied that, because there are no federal income limits for receipt of SSBG-funded services, those services are not well targeted to people who are truly needy.[23]   This criticism, too, is unpersuasive.  A substantial share of SSBG funds go to services like child welfare and protecting adults from abuse and neglect — in other words, to help people who are clearly vulnerable and in need, regardless of their income.  Moreover, states often use their discretion to restrict other SSBG-supported services, like child care and supportive services, to families with low incomes.  For example, Texas restricts eligibility for supportive services for emotionally disturbed children to families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line, Arizona restricts child care eligibility to families at or below 165 percent of the poverty line, and Connecticut restricts eligibility for most services (except those designed to address or prevent abuse or neglect) to individuals or families with incomes at or below 150 percent of the poverty line.[24]

States in No Position to Replace Lost SSBG Funds

States, facing continued budget shortfalls, are not in a position to replace the funds they would lose if Congress eliminated the SSBG.[25]

States have made broad and deep spending cuts to address the nearly $600 billion in budget gaps they have faced during the economic slump.  The cuts have affected all major areas of state budgets — elementary and secondary education, health care, higher education, and human services.  Any additional cuts imposed to make up for the loss of SSBG funds would likely come at the expense of services that states have already weakened significantly.

Nor are states’ federal TANF funds the solution.  To help states deal with SSBG funding cuts in the 1996 welfare reform law, that legislation allowed states to transfer up to 10 percent of their TANF block grant to the SSBG.  Twenty-two states transferred $1.2 billion to the SSBG in fiscal year 2010, less than the 10 percent maximum allowed.  The transferred funds must go to services for families with children with incomes under 200 percent of the poverty line.  Almost three-quarters of the transferred TANF funds go to fund child welfare (49 percent) and child care services (25 percent).

States do not have sufficient TANF funds to increase the share of their TANF funds that go to formerly SSBG-funded services.  The annual TANF block grant has remained frozen since its creation in 1996 and has lost 30 percent of its value due to inflation.  Moreover, this year, for the first time since 1996, Congress failed to provide any funding for TANF’s “Supplemental Grants,” leaving 17 states — the majority of them very poor states[26] — with $319 million less in TANF funding than in previous years when the Supplemental Grants were funded.  In addition, TANF funds are restricted to families with dependent children, while some SSBG-funded services help other adults, including many seniors.

In the last few years, despite the increase in need among families with children due to the recession, many states facing budget shortfalls have cut cash assistance deeply for families that already live far below the poverty line, ended it entirely for many other families with physical or mental health issues or other challenges, and cut child care or other work-related assistance that helps working-poor families stay employed.[27]   Only 27 out of every 100 families with children that live in poverty now receive any TANF cash assistance at all (down from 68 out of 100 such families in 1995), [28]  and in the majority of states, TANF benefits fail to lift families with no other income even to 30 percent of the poverty line.[29]  TANF is not a place to look to replace lost federal SSBG funds.

The SSBG Proposal Continues Troubling Trend of Targeting Programs for Vulnerable People

The Ways and Means vote to eliminate the SSBG is consistent with the House’s disturbing recent pattern of targeting vulnerable populations for cuts while protecting wealthier individuals and corporations from sacrifices.

  • The House Agriculture Committee, which the House budget requires to find $33 billion in savings over ten years, chose to secure all of those savings through cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.  Even as it cut SNAP, the Agriculture Committee completely shielded farm subsidies, which averaged more than $30,000 a year per recipient household in 2009 and of which 74 percent went to the largest, most profitable farms, with average annual household incomes of over $160,000.[30]   (These SNAP cuts would come on top of another proposal in the House budget resolution to cut SNAP by $134 billion over the next decade and convert it to a block grant.)[31]
  • The House budget resolution would cut Medicaid by $810 billion over the next ten years — and by 34 percent by 2022 — and convert it to a block grant.  To compensate for funding cuts of this magnitude, states would have to institute deep cuts to eligibility, benefit coverage and/or provider payment rates.  This likely would result in millions more low-income individuals and families becoming uninsured or underinsured, with reduced access to needed medical care.[32]
  • The House budget would not only extend President Bush’s tax cuts, which tilt heavily toward high-income households and, according to the Tax Policy Center, are worth an average of $129,000 a year to people with annual incomes above $1 million, but would add tax cuts on top worth another $265,000 a year, on average, for households over $1 million.[33]   House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has said that the House budget would fully offset the cost of the proposed new tax cuts by closing tax expenditures, but the budget contains no specific proposals to do so, and indicates that the tax break most heavily tilted toward high-income households — the preferential tax rates for capital gains and dividends — should not be touched.[34]
  • The House-approved budget as a whole relies on cuts to low-income programs for 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years.[35]

 

Appendix A:
SSBG Spending for FY 2009
CBPP Consolidated Categories and Official Reporting Categories
 

Vulnerable and Elderly Adults

$465,906,050 27.0%

Protective Services - Adults

$210,302,566 12.2%

Home-Based Services

$169,380,683 9.8%

Foster Care Services - Adults

$29,577,968 1.7%

Home Delivered Meals

$25,482,489 1.5%

Day Care - Adults

$23,988,382 1.4%

Congregate Meals

$7,173,962 0.4%
 

Child Welfare/At Risk Youth

$418,147,734 24.3%

Protective Services - Children

$133,001,497 7.7%

Foster Care Services - Children

$132,657,642 7.7%

Residential Treatment Services

$58,881,865 3.4%

Prevention & Intervention Services

$44,392,821 2.6%

Adoption Services

$21,598,119 1.3%

Special Services for At Risk Youth

$20,820,932 1.2%

Independent and Transitional Living Services

$6,794,858 0.4%
 

Disability Services

$243,419,274 14.1%
 

Counseling and Supportive Services

$223,215,948 13.0%

Case Management Services

$150,434,644 8.7%

Counseling Services

$20,642,121 1.2%

Transportation Services

$20,107,583 1.2%

Housing Services

$16,549,569 1.0%

Health-Related Services

$10,977,151 0.6%

Substance Abuse Services

$4,504,880 0.3%
 

Child Care

$110,401,462 6.4%
 

Other Services

$187,657,849 10.9%

Other Services

$98,220,448 5.7%

Education and Training Services

$21,632,305 1.3%

Legal Services

$18,287,739 1.1%

Information and Referral Services

$17,478,571 1.0%

Family Planning Services

$12,207,117 0.7%

Employment Services

$11,361,657 0.7%

Pregnancy and Parenting Services

$7,723,212 0.4%

Recreation Services

$746,800 0.0%
 

Administrative Expenses

$74,774,141 4.3%
Source: Based on data from HHS, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html.

 

Appendix B
SSBG Allocations, TANF Transfers, and Number of Individuals Served
State 2009 SSBG Allocations 2009 TANF Transfer Total SSBG Expenditures 2009 Recipients
Alabama $25,937,984 $10,440,848 $36,378,832 56,745
Alaska $3,830,729 $5,049,000 $8,879,729 39,785
Arizona $35,527,187 $22,415,757 $57,942,944 340,218
Arkansas $15,888,351 $0 $15,888,351 69,495
California $204,871,919 $347,641,949 $552,513,868 3,331,445
Colorado $27,247,614 $13,525,884 $40,773,498 78,795
Connecticut $19,629,594 $26,678,810 $46,308,404 2,915,787
Delaware $4,846,793 $2,788,865 $7,635,658 9,793
Dist. of Col. $3,297,234 $3,935,917 $7,233,151 36,159
Florida $102,293,798 $62,274,578 $164,568,376 345,268
Georgia $53,496,013 $0 $53,496,013 87,703
Hawaii $7,193,079 $9,890,000 $17,083,079 14,613
Idaho $8,403,785 $1,441,201 $9,844,986 23,559
Illinois $72,035,420 $39,672,230 $111,707,650 1,418,988
Indiana $35,563,808 $2,000,000 $37,563,808 112,238
Iowa $16,747,274 $12,962,008 $29,709,282 55,011
Kansas $15,558,791 $7,191,254 $22,750,045 47,860
Kentucky $23,772,435 $0 $23,772,435 194,114
Louisiana $24,062,369 $16,397,199 $40,459,568 67,296
Maine $7,382,626 $2,542,709 $9,925,335 38,015
Maryland $31,489,458 $22,909,803 $54,399,261 118,705
Massachusetts $36,149,315 $45,937,113 $82,086,428 40,662
Michigan $56,450,124 $77,535,285 $133,985,409 423,914
Minnesota $29,131,407 $4,790,000 $33,921,407 435,751
Mississippi $16,359,083 $9,235,912 $25,594,995 52,762
Missouri $32,947,093 $21,705,174 $54,652,267 90,274
Montana $5,368,579 $1,998,226 $7,366,805 13,062
Nebraska $9,946,041 $0 $9,946,041 50,708
Nevada $14,378,345 $1,924,690 $16,303,035 162,566
New Hampshire $7,374,897 $2,000,000 $9,374,897 211,108
New Jersey $48,682,478 $16,938,000 $65,620,478 1,719,689
New Mexico $11,040,897 $0 $11,040,897 23,049
New York $108,159,098 $200,755,328 $308,914,426 358,093
North Carolina $50,784,890 $14,838,807 $65,623,697 709,944
North Dakota $3,585,448 $0 $3,585,448 5,854
Ohio $64,269,293 $54,597,620 $118,866,913 470,772
Oklahoma $20,274,180 $14,528,144 $34,802,324 162,176
Oregon $21,003,578 $0 $21,003,578 42,419
Pennsylvania $69,682,789 $23,232,750 $92,915,539 4,010,153
Rhode Island $5,928,892 $8,257,769 $14,186,661 162,331
South Carolina $24,704,142 $4,000,000 $28,704,142 51,711
South Dakota $4,462,587 $2,127,965 $6,590,552 27,252
Tennessee $34,506,919 $9,000,000 $43,506,919 581,051
Texas $133,978,262 $29,777,490 $163,755,752 1,843,979
Utah $14,826,434 $7,560,948 $22,387,382 347,709
Vermont $3,481,978 $4,735,318 $8,217,296 30,441
Virginia $43,224,403 $13,956,375 $57,180,778 51,759
Washington $36,253,950 $8,642,000 $44,895,950 679,307
West Virginia $10,156,017 $11,017,631 $21,173,648 65,322
Wisconsin $31,395,836 $13,420,500 $44,816,336 395,676
Wyoming $2,930,336 $0 $2,930,336 8,879
American Samoa $48,518   $48,518  
Guam $58,621   $58,621  
Northern Mariana Islands $293,103   $293,103  
Puerto Rico $8,793,103 $7,156,250 $15,949,353 8,067
Virgin Islands $293,103   $293,103  
US Total $1,690,513,552 $1,212,271,057 $2,902,784,609 $22,629,965
Source: Based on data from HHS, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html.

 

Appendix C
Share of Total Social Services Block Grant Expenditures
For CBPP Consolidated Categories for FY 2009 by State
STATE Child Welfare/
At Risk Youth
Child Care Disability Services Vulnerable & Elderly Adults Counseling & Supportive Services
Alabama 0.0% 1.4% 0.0% 16.8% 0.0%
Alaska 83.4% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 5.3%
Arizona 60.9% 0.3% 0.6% 10.6% 13.6%
Arkansas 50.8% 2.0% 17.4% 9.9% 10.6%
California 13.1% 52.5% 31.8% 2.7% 0.0%
Colorado 91.0% 2.8% 0.0% 5.5% 0.0%
Connecticut 23.4% 35.3% 6.3% 13.4% 13.6%
Delaware 43.0% 21.5% 0.0% 27.6% 2.3%
District of Columbia 6.5% 2.8% 0.0% 36.1% 2.4%
Florida 38.2% 0.3% 40.8% 3.5% 9.0%
Georgia 10.7% 0.0% 58.0% 11.1% 20.2%
Hawaii 90.6% 0.0% 0.0% 9.4% 0.0%
Idaho 74.2% 0.3% 10.6% 0.0% 13.2%
Illinois 8.0% 2.4% 16.7% 52.6% 10.3%
Indiana 34.6% 0.0% 9.8% 4.5% 19.5%
Iowa 3.2% 0.0% 42.0% 3.0% 41.5%
Kansas 76.9% 0.0% 0.0% 23.1% 0.0%
Kentucky 88.0% 0.0% 0.0% 11.6% 0.0%
Louisiana 93.3% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Maine 60.4% 17.0% 0.0% 5.0% 7.5%
Maryland 51.7% 0.0% 0.0% 25.8% 22.5%
Massachusetts 87.3% 0.0% 0.9% 4.4% 0.0%
Michigan 70.2% 4.7% 0.0% 12.4% 0.0%
Minnesota 30.9% 1.9% 2.1% 1.5% 27.4%
Mississippi 53.0% 0.0% 1.0% 15.2% 10.8%
Missouri 33.3% 8.9% 0.0% 2.0% 49.0%
Montana 26.5% 0.0% 67.3% 3.9% 0.0%
Nebraska 43.6% 1.7% 2.5% 9.1% 37.2%
Nevada 51.7% 0.8% 0.0% 19.8% 18.7%
New Hampshire 21.2% 20.0% 0.0% 33.8% 11.1%
New Jersey 9.0% 0.0% 1.9% 6.8% 62.4%
New Mexico 71.5% 0.0% 0.0% 22.6% 0.0%
New York 34.2% 16.9% 0.0% 40.7% 2.3%
North Carolina 25.2% 5.0% 19.3% 10.1% 12.0%
North Dakota 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 100.0%
Ohio 20.7% 0.8% 0.1% 16.2% 19.5%
Oklahoma 64.1% 0.2% 0.0% 35.7% 0.0%
Oregon 51.6% 42.8% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pennsylvania 23.1% 31.2% 0.0% 6.5% 8.6%
Rhode Island 3.7% 20.9% 0.0% 27.9% 31.4%
South Carolina 53.2% 0.0% 0.0% 36.9% 0.4%
South Dakota 75.3% 0.1% 0.0% 23.1% 0.0%
Tennessee 13.2% 8.3% 0.0% 27.9% 43.2%
Texas 6.4% 1.1% 0.9% 59.6% 5.4%
Utah 37.2% 0.1% 9.8% 13.7% 23.3%
Vermont 6.9% 1.4% 3.1% 3.5% 70.8%
Virginia 57.5% 0.0% 0.0% 18.2% 22.5%
Washington 65.5% 2.0% 0.0% 0.0% 16.2%
West Virginia 79.5% 0.1% 0.0% 20.4% 0.0%
Wisconsin 19.3% 0.3% 1.2% 25.5% 18.9%
Wyoming 80.8% 0.7% 0.0% 0.0% 6.1%
51 State Total 34.0% 13.8% 11.1% 17.7% 10.5%
Note:  Table does not show spending on other services or administrative expenses, so rows do not total to 100%.
Source: Based on data from HHS, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html

 

End notes:

[1] States report SSBG spending in 29 categories.  We have collapsed those 29 categories into the seven shown in Figure 1.  Spending for each of the 29 categories can be found in Appendix A.  The expenditures reported in this paper are for fiscal year 2009, the latest year for which state SSBG expenditure data are available.  National figures are available for fiscal year 2010 and are comparable to the 2009 data reported here:  Social Service Block Grant Program Annual Report 2009, Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html.

[2] These figures are for 2009, the most recent year for which data on the number of recipients are available. An individual may have received more than one SSBG-supported service. Social Service Block Grant Program Annual Report 2009, Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html.

[3] Elizabeth McNichol, “Out of Balance,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 18, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3747.

[4] For more, see LaDonna Pavetti, Liz Schott, and Ife Finch, Expiration of TANF Supplemental Grants a Further Sign of Weakening Federal Support for Welfare Reform, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 27, 2011 http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3524.

[5] Liz Schott and LaDonna Pavetti, Many States Cutting TANF Benefits Harshly Despite High Unemployment and Unprecedented Need,  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, October 3, 2011, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3498.

[6] Government Accountability Office, 2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, February 2012, http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588818.pdf.

[7] ASPE Staff, Estimates of Child Care Eligibility and Receipt for Fiscal Year 2006, Department of Health and Human Services, April 2010, http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/10/cc-eligibility/ib.shtml.

[8] Chye-Ching Huang and Hannah Shaw, New Analysis Shows “Tax Expenditures” Overall Are Costly and Regressive,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 23, 2009, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2662.

[9] The Ways and Means Committee cuts, which all come from programs that serve low-income and vulnerable people, include, in addition to elimination of SSBG, a change in the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates would cause 350,000 people to forgo health insurance coverage, and that would make it more difficult for the health reform law’s insurance exchanges to function effectively.  See Judith Solomon and Robert Greenstein, “Provision in House Reconciliation Bill Would Cause 350,000 People to Forgo Health Coverage and Could Jeopardize Health Reform,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 18, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3748

[10] Though Title XX of the Social Security Act was signed into law in January 1975, it was not until the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 that Congress created the Social Services Block Grant, which consolidated funding for the provision of social services and for staff training for those providing social services. When the SSBG was created, funding was capped and federal requirements for targeting benefits to certain beneficiaries were eliminated.  For more detail on the history of funding for social services now funded through the SSBG, see:  Committee on Ways and Means, Green Book: Background Material and Data on the Programs within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. House of Representatives, December 2011, http://greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/.

[11] Karen E. Lynch, Social Services Block Grant: Background and Funding, Congressional Research Service, January 3, 2012.

[12] Allocations for Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands are based on their allocations for fiscal year 1981, adjusted for the current total SSBG funding from Congress. The allocation for American Samoa is based on the relative size of its population to the Northern Mariana Islands. Karen E. Lynch, Social Services Block Grant: Background and Funding, Congressional Research Service, January 3, 2012.

[13] The SSBG’s low administrative costs are typical for programs targeted to low-income and vulnerable individuals.  See Robert Greenstein and CBPP Staff, Romney’s Charge that Most Federal Low-Income Spending Goes for “Overhead” and “Bureaucrats” Is False: For Major Low-Income Programs, More than 90 Percent Goes to Beneficiaries, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 23, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3655.

[14] Social Service Block Grant Program Annual Report 2009, Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ocs/ssbg/reports/2009/index.html.

[15] Jenna Walls et al., Weathering the Storm: The Impact of The Great Recession on Long-Term Services and Supports, AARP Public Policy Institute, January 2011, http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/ppi/ltc/CURRENT__Budget_Paper_v9Jan6.pdf.

[16] According to Sean Hughes and Suzanne Lay of the Child Welfare League of America, “Because IV-E eligibility is linked to outdated income standards [that require parents to meet income eligibility requirements of the old AFDC program in 1996], less than half of children in foster care are currently supported by IV-E.  Furthermore, because the income restrictions that IV-E is linked to are frozen in place and not adjusted for inflation, the rate of foster children covered by IV-E, which is known as the penetration rate, saw a dramatic decline since 1998.  As the number of eligible children decreases, states face increasing pressure and decreasing federal IV-E reimbursements to maintain the support for these vulnerable children and families.” Sean Hughes and Suzanne Lay, Direct Service Workers’ Recommendations for Child Welfare Financing and System Reform, Child Welfare League of America, January 2012. 

[17] Child Welfare Policy Manual, Subsection 8.4A TITLE IV-E, General Title IV-E Requirements, AFDC Eligibility. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, http://www.acf.hhs.gov/cwpm/programs/cb/laws_policies/laws/cwpm/policy_dsp.jsp?citID=8#612.

[18] Tawana Bandy, Kristine M. Andrews and Kristin Anderson Moore, Disadvantaged Families and Child Outcomes:  The Importance of Emotional Support for Mothers, Child Trends, Research-to-Results brief, February 2012, http://www.childtrends.org/Files/Child_Trends-2012_03_21_RB_MaternalSupport.pdf.

[19] Karen Schulman and Helen Blank, State Child Care Assistance Policies 2011: Reduced Support for Families in Challenging Times, National Women’s Law Center, October 2011, http://www.nwlc.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/state_child_care_assistance_policies_report2011_final.pdf.

[20] ASPE Staff, Estimates of Child Care Eligibility and Receipt for Fiscal Year 2006, Department of Health and Human Services, April 2010, http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/10/cc-eligibility/ib.shtml.

[21] Speaker John Boehner, Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Chairman Jeb Hensarling, “Reconciliation” Memo to House Republican Members, April 25, 2012, http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Reconciliation-Memo-2012-Final.pdf?mobile=nc.

[22] Government Accountability Office, 2012 Annual Report: Opportunities to Reduce Duplication, Overlap and Fragmentation, Achieve Savings, and Enhance Revenue, February 2012, http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/588818.pdf.

[23] Speaker John Boehner, Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Chairman Jeb Hensarling, “Reconciliation” Memo to House Republican Members, April 25, 2012, http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Reconciliation-Memo-2012-Final.pdf?mobile=nc.

[24] Most states report their eligibility criteria for various services in their annual SSBG state plans.  The state plans for these three states can be found at the following web links: 
Arizona  https://www.azdes.gov/InternetFiles/Reports/pdf/ssbg_plan_2011_2012.pdf
Connecticut  http://www.ct.gov/dss/lib/dss/ssbg_rfi_2012/Allocation_Plan.pdf
 Texas http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/reports/2011/Block-Grant-0811.pdf.

[25] Phil Oliff, “The Latest on State Budgets,”Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 27, 2012, http://www.offthechartsblog.org/the-latest-on-state-budgets-5/.

[26] LaDonna Pavetti, Liz Schott, and Ife Finch, June 27, 2011.

[27] Liz Schott and LaDonna Pavetti, October 3, 2011.

[28] Danilo Trisi and LaDonna Pavetti, TANF Weakening As a Safety Net for Poor Families, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 13, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3700.

[29] Ife Finch and Liz Schott.  TANF Benefits Fell Further in 2011 and Are Worth Much Less Than in 1996 in Most States, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, November 21, 2011, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3625.

[30] For more on the House Agriculture Committee’s action, see Stacy Dean and Dottie Rosenbaum, House Agriculture Committee Proposal Would Cut 2 Million People Off Food Stamps, Reduce Benefits for More Than 44 Million Others, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 18, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3749.

[31] Dottie Rosenbaum, Ryan Budget Would Slash SNAP Funding by $134 Billion Over Ten Years, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 18, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3717.

[32] Edwin Park and Matt Broaddus, Ryan Medicaid Block Grant Would Cut Medicaid by One-Third by 2022 and More After That, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 27, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3727.

[33] The $265,000 estimate also comes from the Tax Policy Center.  See Chuck Marr, New Tax Cuts in Ryan Budget Would Give Millionaires $265,000 on Top of Bush Tax Cuts, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, April 12, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3728.

[34] Chuck Marr, Ryan Budget’s Claim to Finance Its Tax Cuts for the Wealthy By Curbing Their Tax Breaks Does Not Withstand Scrutiny, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 22, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3722.

[35] Kelsey Merrick and Jim Horney, Chairman Ryan Gets 62 Percent of His Huge Budget Cuts from Programs for Lower-Income Americans, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 23, 2012, http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3723.

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