On July 11, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held a hearing to examine the President’s FY2002 budget proposals that fall under the jurisdiction of the subcommittee and would be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These proposals include new initiatives such as a responsible fatherhood program, a program to provide support for faith-based organizations that help the needy, and a program to help the children of prisoners.
Dennis Williams of HHS presented an overview of the President’s FY2002 budget request for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). “The ACF is the Department’s lead agency responsible for serving our nation’s most vulnerable populations, including pre-school children, adolescents, and families and children in crisis,” explained Mr. Williams.
Overall, the administration has requested $44.4 billion for the ACF in FY2002, an increase of 2.9 percent above the FY2001 level. Two-thirds or $31.8 billion would be used for entitlement programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, child support enforcement, foster care and adoption assistance, and the child care entitlement. The remaining portion, $12.6 billion, would be used for discretionary programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start, and the Community Services Block Grant.
The President’s FY2002 budget request includes an authorization for $64 million for a responsible fatherhood program that would provide competitive grants to organizations to help non-custodial parents, mostly fathers, provide financial support for their children, to improve parenting skills, and to promote marriage. “This initiative shares many of the same goals as the legislation this committee has supported,” said Mr. Williams (See The Source, 6/29/01, p. 7).
Additionally, the President’s budget proposal would set up a compassion capital fund totaling $89 million to provide technical assistance and support to non-profit or faith-based organizations that work with social service agencies to address the needs of low-income families, and would provide $67 million within the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program for a new discretionary initiative to assist children of prisoners.
Mr. Williams also mentioned other priorities in the ACF’s FY2002 budget that fall outside of the subcommittee’s jurisdiction including “$33 million for community-based, adult supervised group homes for teenage mothers and their children in the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program.”
Ranking Democrat, Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) complained that “the Bush budget fails to extend the TANF supplemental grants, which help many of our poorer states and which expire this year.” The proposed budget “would allow states to spend the federal TANF funds to offset the cost of tax breaks for charitable donations,” he added. Rep. Cardin also pointed out that faith-based organizations “have been outspoken in their support for restoring funding to the Social Services Block Grant (Title XX), which has been cut from $2.8 billion a year in 1995 to $1.7 billion today,” and added, “Yet, President Bush’s budget continues to under-fund this program.” Subcommittee Chair Wally Herger (R-CA) praised the mentoring program for children of prisoners. “To his credit, the President has proposed new funding for private programs that link such children with positive adult role models while their own parent is in jail, ” he said. “Given the number of children affected and the likelihood this sad cycle will repeat itself if nothing is done, I hope we can all agree to support the President’s proposal,” he added.