November/December 2001Vol. 2, No. 6Congress Works on Appropriations for Child and Family Programs
Both the House and Senate have approved bills appropriating funds for legislation related to child abuse and neglect, child welfare, and adoption. A conference committee comprising members of both Houses now will reconcile the two versions of the bill, H.R. 3061, which includes appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services.
The full House approved H.R. 3061 on October 11. The Senate approved its version, as amended, on November 6. Both versions would increase funding for the Safe and Stable Families program from its current $305 million to $375 million for the 2002 and 2003 fiscal years. This $70 million increase is significantly less than the $200 million that President Bush had requested.
On the reauthorization side, on November 13, the House passed H.R. 2873, the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendment of 2001. The bill reauthorizes the program for five years at its current funding level of $305 million annually and adds $200 million in discretionary funding for the program. Also, the bill authorizes $60 million to fund education vouchers for youth aging out of foster care and $67 million for two years to establish a program for mentoring the children of prisoners. The latter two authorizations respond to initiatives proposed by President Bush. H.R. 2873 has now been placed on the Senate calendar for a vote.
The House and the Senate spending bills both deferred making appropriations for the education vouchers and the mentoring program because work on the authorizing legislation had not been completed. For the same reason, the House and Senate deferred making appropriations for the President's proposals to fund efforts to promote responsible fatherhood. The Senate spending bill includes $33 million dollars for maternity group homes as the President's budget had requested; the House version does not. The House version includes $30 million for the Compassion Capital Fund, a new program requested by the Administration to further its Faith-Based Initiative aimed at expanding the pool of faith- and community-based organizations that deliver federally funded social services. The Senate version appropriated $89 million for the fund as the Administration had requested.
The Safe and Stable Families program provides funding to State and Tribal child welfare agencies for family support, family preservation, time-limited family reunification, and adoption promotion and support services. H.R. 2873 also adds two more allowable activities under the program: promoting healthy marriages to further the well-being of children and funding Infant Safe Haven programs, which give parents who otherwise would abandon their infants an option for relinquishment.
"Promoting safe and stable families is one of the most worthwhile priorities in the Federal budget," said HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson when the bill was introduced. "Strengthening families that are at risk and ensuring the safe and permanent placement of vulnerable children, such as those in foster care, is vitally important to our future as a country."
For bill summaries and status, visit the website of Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress at: http://thomas.loc.gov
See the following related articles in these issues of the Children's Bureau Express:
- "Table Highlighting FY02 Appropriations Process to Date" (November/December 2001)
- "HHS Assistant Secretary Testifies Before Congress on CAPTA" (July/August 2001)