Let's dig a little deeper into the Governor's budget recommendations, specifically the CCSA allocation and adoption assistance.
The Children and Community Services Act is the bulk of the state's contribution to Child Protection. Since last year's reduction was passed as a one-time cut, and since the proposal to make last year's cuts to CCSA permanent were vetoed by the Governor, under current law CCSA is restored to its previous base of $63.8 million per year. Then the Governor's proposed cuts are applied to that figure.
"The Governor recommends that the CCSA funds be reduced by $10 million in FY 2012 and $12 million in FY 2013." See page 24 of the human services budget document for detail. Along with the change in dollar amounts, the following change in focus is proposed: "This proposal refocuses the use of the state funds on core public safety responsibilities, in protecting children and adults at risk of abuse and neglect." These funds are currently able to be used more flexibly by counties to fund a variety of community and children's services.
Another key element is the full funding of adoption and relative care assistance. This entails an additional allocation of $12.8 million from the General Fund for the 2012-2013 biennium. The increase in funding allows for fully funding the current number of assistance eligible families as well as the projected growth in this caseload. You can see the details on page 21 of the human services budget document. The goals of fully funding this area of the Child Welfare system are:
· Increase rates of permanency within 24 months.
· Increase the number of children placed with relatives/kin.
· Reduce the number of youth who "age out" of foster care.
Nearly half of all Child Welfare spending in the state is funded by local government, so changes to the state's Local Government Aid (LGA) (the state's payments to cities and counties) could have a significant trickle down effect on Child Welfare services. In the Governor's budget, LGA is not cut; this leaves counties with a relatively stable ability to fund their share of Child Welfare services. Although, as many in the field would say, counties are already struggling to meet the demands on the Child Welfare system at current funding levels.
And for those of you interested in what's happening at the federal level, here is one advocacy group's synopsis of recent budget proposals pertaining to children's programs.