The federal FY 2012 budget has been offically approved and signed into law by the President. CWLA is pleased generally that child welfare programs were level funded as compared to last year. Today, CWLA released it’s final budget chart for FY 2012 detailing these funding levles. This chart includes 56 seperate federal funding streams that taken together make up the federal resources avialable for all child welfare and related federal programs. In addition to the final spending level for FY 2012 the chart includes for comparison the final amount for FY 2011, and the spending levels proposed by President Obama and the primary congressional appropriations legislation. Aside from the chart there is more federal budget information available at the CWLA These Cuts Won’t Heal website.
In this era of fiscal restraint and increased pressure to reduce spending especially on human services such as foster care, adoption and abuse and neglect prevention, it is gratifying to see child welfare programs were spared from cuts for the most part. CWLA began the year by launching our These Cuts Won’t Heal campaign to raise awareness and to advocate for adequate federal funds to continued to be invested in these vital programs. We are pleased Congress and the Administration heard this message.
Today the House of Representatives approved final appropriations for FY 2012 and the Senate is expected to approve the package tomorrow. At that point the bill will be sent to President Obama who is expected to sign it into law. This will bring to a close the acrimonious and lengthy budget battle over 2012 spending which has threatened to close the government and exacerbated partisan divisions on Capitol Hill.
The legislation includes funding for child welfare programs within the Department of Health and Human Services. These programs are level funded for the most part. Exceptions include Promoting Safe and Stable Families of Title IV-B which was cut from $365 million to $345 million. Among other important social service funds the Race to the Top and Early Learning Challenge funds were cut substantially from $699 million to $ 550 million and as reported earlier juvenile justice funds were severely reduced. Head Start received an increase from $7.56 billion to almost $8 billion. On Monday CWLA will provide a listing of all the primary child welfare and related funding levels.
Yesterday a bill providing $182 billion in funding for five Cabinet-level agencies passed Congress, marking the first tangible progress in the Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations process. This funding level is in line with the spending caps put into place by the Budget Control Act, which passed in August. The legislation, encompassing the traditional Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bills, passed the House by a 298-121 vote and the Senate by a 70-30 vote.
Among the federal programs that support vulnerable children and families that CWLA tracks, there were mixed results. Homeless assistance programs were preserved and $250 million was set aside for homelessness prevention for families. The food stamp and child nutrition programs were funded at levels that should meet expected demand. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides nutrition assistance to low-income mothers, received a slight cut from 2011 levels, but was spared from some of the harsher cuts proposed by the House. However juvenile justice programs were cut once again, receiving a combined $263 million.
Finally, a continuing resolution (CR) keeping the government running through December 16, 2011 was included in the bill to buy more time for negotiations on the remaining appropriations work and to prevent any government shutdown. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the President today.
A new study, “Young Adult Outcomes of Youth Exiting Dependent or Delinquent Care in Los Angeles County” found that crossover youth experience fairly poor outcomes after exiting care and face severe challenges in education, employment, health, mental health and earnings potential. The report, funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, defined crossover youth as youth who are involved in both foster care and juvenile justice systems. The study used records from thousands of youths who exited foster care from an out-of-home placement in 2002 and 2004, and juvenile records for any youths who exited probation from 2000 to 2006. There were a total of 596 youths who exited foster care in one of those years and also exited probation. On most measures of adult outcomes, they fared significantly worse than the youths who came into contact with one system.
While there is longstanding recognition that crossover youth fare worse than youth who only come into contact with one agency, the California study shows that in many cases, the crossover youths experience negative outcomes at twice the rate. In fact, crossover youths accounted for an average of $35,171 in public service utilization costs, such as being jailed or receiving welfare benefits, which is nearly three times the $12,532 average for other foster youth. Furthermore, eighty-two percent received some state benefits, including welfare, food stamps or Medicaid, compared with 68 percent of other youth exiting from foster care.
The research suggests that two major factors for the disparity were treatment for mental health disorders and further criminal activity. The study suggests that connecting more crossover youths to employment opportunities is another potential avenue for improvement. The study recommends targeting this population for ongoing intervention and outreach and as a result, the Hilton Foundation plans to use the findings of this study to craft a pilot program for working with crossover youth. The results of the study are also expected to inform implementation of the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12) that extends foster care from 18 years to 21 years starting January 1, 2012. A follow-up study is underway to determine whether other factors can help predict which crossover youths will struggle and require high levels of public assistance.