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October 2023Vol. 24, No. 8Child Trends Survey Details Agency Expenditures for State Fiscal Year 2020

Funding for child welfare agencies comes from a variety of funding streams and sources, many of which have different purposes and eligibility requirements. To help child welfare administrators, policymakers, advocates, and researchers find information about states’ financing and funding-related challenges, Child Trends conducted the 12th edition of its national survey of child welfare agency expenditures.

A full report of survey results and findings, an executive summary, and a state-level data table of survey results are all available on Child Trend's Child Welfare Financing Survey SFY2020 webpage. The survey was completed in 2021 and 2022 and captures data from state fiscal year 2020 (from July 2019 to June 2020 for most states). The survey had similar questions to previous surveys, with the addition of new topics, including how states use third-party income sources to offset costs, the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act.

The following are some of the key findings from survey results:

  • In state fiscal year 2020, state and local child welfare agencies spent $31.4 billion using a combination of federal, state, local, and other funds.
  • After accounting for inflation, expenditures have been steady over the past decade, increasing by just 1 percent.
  • Most child welfare agency funding comes from state and local (as opposed to federal) sources.
  • Almost half of child welfare agency expenditures are spent on out-of-home placements.
  • Child welfare agencies continue to spend a relatively small proportion of funding on prevention.

The Child Trends page for the survey also provides state profiles, funding by source (including title IV-E, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Medicaid), past financing surveys, and related research.