CWLA sent a letter to all the members (PDF) of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, established by the recently enacted Budget Control Act. The Special Committee is tasked with making recommendations to Congress for further budget reforms. The letter urges the committee members to ensure that as a part of that process, federal programs serving vulnerable children and families be protected.
The letter points out that the Budget Control Act has already placed difficult spending caps on discretionary funding over the next decade. Not only will important programs be competing for funding within a smaller discretionary budget this upcoming fiscal year, but in the out years it will be difficult for them to continue to provide the same level of services when discretionary funds are increasing at a rate lower than inflation. This ensures that adequately funding programs serving children and families either in the child welfare system or at risk of entering it will be a difficult undertaking each year during the appropriations process.
We highlight the exemption of Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other programs serving low-income families from the automatic cuts that ensue should an agreement fail to pass Congress. This exemption is critical to ensure that vulnerable children and families can continue to receive the support and services they need. Supporting and investing in the array of services funded by these programs helps prevent future abuse and neglect, enables alternatives to removing children from struggling families, reduces the strain on other social safety nets, and ultimately minimizes the need for more costly interventions like incarceration.
Furthermore, we believe that these same principles should apply to any further deficit reductions that this committee might seek to obtain, whether they be from discretionary, mandatory, or entitlement programs. The idea that vulnerable children and families should be shielded from budget cuts has historical precedent and was included in the very agreement creating this committee, and therefore CWLA firmly supports using this premise as a guide for deliberations in the committee.