The Social Services Block Grant: A Thing of the Past?
At a time when our communities require investment in services for children and people who are elderly and disabled, the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is on the chopping block. In an attempt to generate savings by the House-approved budget, the House Ways and Means Committee recently voted to completely eliminate SSBG even though it funds these vital services.
Unless Congress acts, on January 1, 2013, SSBG funds to states will be cut by approximately 9 percent. Even worse, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a budget reconciliation bill that entirely eliminates funding for SSBG.
A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that:
States use the $1.7 billion-a-year grant to support services designed to help people become more self-sufficient by providing child care assistance, prevent and address child abuse, and support community-based care for the elderly and disabled. Roughly 23 million people — about half of them children — receive services funded in whole or part by the SSBG.
SSBG which is flexible money that states can use to meet a wide range of social service needs, provides $1.7 billion to states annually for:
- Child care and related assistance for 4.4 million children
- Meals on wheels and other home-based services for nearly 1.7 million older Americans
- Child protective services for 1.8 million at-risk children
- Transportation, respite care and other services for nearly 1 million disabled individuals
According to the report, if funds are cut:
States are in no position to replace lost SSBG funds by increasing their own funding. States have imposed nearly $300 billion in spending cuts over the past five years to close recession-induced budget gaps, affecting public services ranging from education to health care to human services. Any additional cuts imposed to make up for the loss of SSBG funds would likely come at the expense of services that states have already weakened significantly.
How would your state respond to a 9 percent reduction in funding for vital social services? Find out how large of an impact eliminating the Social Services Block Grant would have on critical services for populations with unique needs in your state here.