In order to conform with the House-passed budget resolution, H Con Res 112, the House Ways and Means Committee recently submitted reconciliation legislation that would repeal the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) beginning in Fiscal Year 2013 (FY 2013). This marks the second consecutive year that the House has targeted SSBG for elimination in an effort to reduce the federal deficit. The Senate is again expected to resist repeal of SSBG, and in fact there is a great deal of uncertainty about whether the Senate will even pass a budget resolution at all this year, with many in the Senate preferring to use the discretionary spending caps enacted under the Budget Control Act as a guideline for spending levels.
Still, the persistence of the House in targeting SSBG is worrisome. SSBG provides $1.7 billion annually in block grants to states- funding that has proved critical in helping reduce the need for cuts to social services at the state level. This flexible stream of funding can be used for a wide range of child welfare services, including costs for foster children not eligible for IV-E, child abuse prevention and child protection, adoption, residential services, case management, and independent and transitional living for children and youth. Considering the service cuts already enacted in states around the country due to the economic downturn, this would be an especially damaging time to reduce or eliminate SSBG funding.