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VFA Policy Intern Blog: Social Security Block Grant

Social Security Block Grant

By Michael Tuskey 

Published 7/21

Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a Federal block grant to states and territories which allows them to decide how to best allocate funds for child welfare services. The SSBG gives states flexibility with the funding they receive to ensure that the most pressing issues in communities are addressed to to help vulnerable children, adults, and families. The goals of the grant are to prevent abuse, neglect, and ensure stability for those covered under the program. It stands as one of the most successful child welfare bills passed into law and Voice for Adoption stands against any proposed cuts to the program.

It started 1935 when Congress passed the Social Security Act of 1935 which established a system of Federal old-age benefits, and enabled the States to make more adequate provisions for the elderly, disabled, and child welfare. This was a momentous step for advocates of child welfare, as state and federal governments began funding programs to help those in need. President Ronald Reagan would take this a step further when he signed into law the Social Services Block Grant

SSBG is a permanently designated federal block grant for states. During the fiscal year 2016, SSBG budget was set at $1.6 billion dollars, a slight increase from fiscal year 2015. These funds were handed out to states that apply for the grant with a formula designed to ensure equal distribution. The advantage of this funding as a block grant is that states can spend the money how they see fit, as long as it falls under the goals and 29 categories established by the federal government. Over half of all funding goes to child welfare services and additional supports which includes child protection services. The rest of the funding goes to daycare services, special needs programs, elderly services, counseling, and administration costs. This grant is especially critical for foster care youth, as not only do they need to removed from dangerous homes, they need to placed in safe environments and be provided the care to recover from their traumatizing experience.

Millions of children, adults, and families have been helped by SSBG over the years. Without SSBG, states would have to choose who they can and can’t help. In FY 2012 94% of the appropriation went to the following states: Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, states that rely solely on SSBG funding for child welfare services. Yet under the House Ways and Means committee 2016 budget, SSBG would be completely eliminated from the federal budget. Already vulnerable people will be expose to further suffering without the aid and support SSBG provides. VFA stands strongly against any proposed cuts and encourages those who support SSBG to stands with us against such actions.







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