Outside Groups: Cutting the Social Services Block Grant Harms Children, Seniors

Mar 16, 2016

Today, Ways and Means Republicans will vote to end the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) – a policy created under President Reagan that had Republican support for years – which plays an important role in providing child care for Americans working to stay out of poverty, preventing child and elder abuse, and helping seniors and people with disabilities to live independently.

Former Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp even supported it, until he didn’t“Cutting funding for services that keep people in their communities and out of expensive institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes is short sighted and will lead to unnecessary suffering as well as increased spending in other federal programs.”

HERE’S WHAT OUTSIDE GROUPS ARE SAYING ABOUT HOW CRITICAL THE SOCIAL SERVICES BLOCK GRANT IS TO COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY:

Child Welfare League of America: “We can’t tell you exactly what the outcome would be if you eliminate SSBG. We suggest the answer to that question is, in part the same as the answer to this, what is the outcome when a child abuse report is filed and there is no one there to investigate?”

County Welfare Directors Association of California: “We find particularly objectionable the depiction of the SSBG as a ‘no-strings-attached slush fund’ in materials sent out regarding the bills. Enacted during the Reagan Administration, SSBG was created as a block grant so states and counties could determine how best to target a capped amount of federal funds to meet human services needs in their communities.”

First Focus Campaign for Children: “SSBG makes child care more affordable for the parents of over 3.7 million children, funds child abuse prevention and response efforts that protect 2 million children, and finances foster care for children victimized by abuse or neglect. These services are necessary to support families in achieving economic stability and protecting the physical safety and mental health of our nation’s children and youth.”

American Public Human Services Association“Without SSBG, states and local agencies would be unable to step in and fund critical supports for aging and elderly populations that have no alternative sources of financing. If Congress ends SSBG but provides no other funding to take its place, the consequences to these populations are likely to be serious and widespread.”

National Association of County Human Services Administrators: “Most counties have reported that a loss of SSBG funds would lead to elimination or reduction of services, followed by lay-offs and institutionalization of individuals who are currently receiving inhome services. The program does not serve as a ‘no-strings-attached slush fund’ as depicted in the Committee’s press release regarding the bill. It is a critical federal component to support county efforts to protect our most vulnerable families.”

The Arc: “Eliminating the SSBG would reduce essential funding at a time when many state and local budgets continue to experience ongoing financial pressure and many people with disabilities, seniors, and families are in urgent need of assistance.”

Coalition on Human Needs“It is ironic that the House Committee on Ways and Means’ summary description of this bill calls SSBG a “slush fund,” since it is doing just what the Reagan-era Congress asked of it. These funds are urgently needed now, because 35 states and the District of Columbia reduced their spending on child welfare services between 2010 and 2012 (the most recent data available).”

Easter Seals: “The champions of SSBG have included the leadership from both parties. In past congresses SSBG has had bipartisan support on both the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Finance Committee. We hope this will be true again.”

National Association of Counties: “Many counties depend on SSBG to serve vulnerable children and adults within their communities, including those in ten of our nation’s most populous states, where SSBG is directly passed through to counties… we are deeply concerned that the loss of SSBG funds would lead to the elimination or sharp reduction of services, followed by staff reductions and the otherwise avoidable institutionalization of individuals who are currently receiving in‐home services.”

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114th Congress