Earlier today, CWLA and other national organizations held a briefing on Capitol Hill to highlight the important work that is funded by the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and the very real damage that would be caused if it were eliminated as called for in a plan approved by the House of Representatives earlier this year. John Sciamanna from the National Foster Care Coalition opened the briefing with a plea to Congress to support SSBG and to reject efforts to eliminate it.
Other speakers included Delegate Samuel Rosenberg, vice-chair of the Maryland House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee, Bob Suver, Director of Clark County Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Jerry Davis, Vice-President for National Advocacy and Public Policy at Boys Town, and Cecile Noel, Executive Deputy Commissioner at the New York City Human Resources Administration. The speakers described the critical needs SSBG meets in their communities and how this resource is not available anywhere else. The flexible funding structure of SSBG was also touted as an effective feature of the block grant. It was noted that approximately 12% of SSBG funds support child welfare services. Additionally, child protective services (CPS) receives many hundreds of millions more in funding from SSBG each year than from the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act that sets CPS mandates for protecting children.
On May 10, the House passed H.R. 5652, which would eliminate SSBG and make drastic cuts to Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program among others. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill and the Senate has shown no interest in taking it up. Still, the bill’s passage is important because as the looming 2013 sequestration deadline approaches, pressure to replace or eliminate these cuts will increase. This bill demonstrates just how the House seeks to do so and may come into play during post-election negotiations.