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Testimony on the President's FY 1997 Budget Request for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) by Mary Jo Bane
Assistant Secretary
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on the Department of Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
May 2, 1996

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am pleased to present the
President's budget request for the Administration for Children and Families
(ACF) for FY 1997. I am accompanied by Ann Rosewater, Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Policy and External Affairs, and Dennis Williams, Deputy Assistant
Secretary for Budget for the Department.

President Clinton has presented to Congress a budget which addresses the
concerns of Americans, serves their interests, and creates opportunity; a budget
that keeps faith with the longstanding commitments of this Department. In
keeping with Administration policy to increase support for programs that promote
economic security and independence and healthy development for our children,
while working toward more efficient government, our increases are targeted in
areas that have shown significant payoffs.

The FY 1997 budget of $34.3 billion for the Administration for Children and
Families, which is an increase of $1.9 billion over the FY 1996 level, meets
the challenge of continuing investments of previous years which will lead to
future service improvements, costs savings, and ultimately citizens who are more
independent. In a time of very tight resources, we are seeking increases for
Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant. In addition, we are
proposing a new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative targeting communities with
high teen pregnancy rates which have demonstrated a commitment to community
problem solving and have developed an appropriate infrastructure for
implementing proposed strategies. These increases have been partially offset by
a comprehensive budget strategy which includes combining programs to improve
efficiency at all levels, and reducing the number of small categorical grant


The FY 1997 budget request includes $7.7 billion for ACF discretionary
programs - an increase of $686 million over the FY 1996 appropriation.

To create a positive future, we must build on people's strengths, hopes, and
successes, and act immediately and together to ensure Strong Foundations and
Safe Passages for all children and youth and to create stability and economic
security for our families and communities.

While the Administration for Children and Families funds a wide range of
discretionary programs, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a few
of our key programmatic initiatives.

Approximately 60 percent of ACF's discretionary spending supports programs
serving young children through the Head Start and the Child Care and Development
Block Grant programs.

Head Start

One of the Strong Foundations for our children is the Head Start program
which gives children who are the most at risk a better chance of learning and
success in life. In FY 1997, we are requesting $3.98 billion. The FY 1997
program level for Head Start will support enrollment of nearly 800,000 children
and their families, moving toward the President's goal of providing services to
1 million children by the year 2002. Because early investment in children gives
them the best chance of continued success, our FY 1997 request also continues
our commitment to the Early Head Start Program increasing enrollment in this
area by 7,400 infants and toddlers between FY 1995 and FY 1997.

In addition, an investment in the Head Start Program builds on our efforts
of the past couple of years to ensure quality throughout the program. The
performance of Head Start grantees will be closely assessed through a
strengthened monitoring system designed to improve program quality as well as to
assure their compliance with required standards. Funds will be targeted to
provide training and technical assistance to poorly performing grantees. If
grantees are found to have deficiencies which are not corrected within
agreed-upon time frames, HHS will terminate their Head Start grant and seek a
replacement agency to serve that community.

Since 1993, we have turned around 100 grantees that had been targeted as
high risk grantees, developing action plans to reestablish them as quality Head
Start Programs. In addition, 40 grantees were terminated or have relinquished
their grant since October of 1993.

Child Care and Development Block Grant

The President believes strongly that the best safety net for our children is
- and will always be - strong families. And, whether they are struggling to get
jobs or keep them, we know that families need good child care to keep their
children safe. The FY 1997 request for the Child Care and Development Block
Grant is $1.05 billion.

Over 750,000 children are currently served with the Child Care and
Development Block Grant. However, available resources fall far short of meeting
the need for child care assistance. Currently, working poor child care funds
only reach a relatively small percentage of the estimated 9 million children in
families with a single working parent or dual working parents that could
potentially be eligible for Child Care and Development Block Grant funds. In
December 1994 the General Accounting Office reported that the availability of
affordable child care is a decisive factor allowing low-income mothers to work.
They predict that providing full subsidy to mothers who pay for child care could
increase substantially the proportion who work.

The Administration's FY 1997 request will allow States to serve more
families - keeping families off welfare and giving parents peace of mind -
knowing their children are safe and healthy in child care. We must continue to
expand child care opportunities to those working parents who are struggling to
remain out of the welfare system. We must continue to build the quality of
those opportunities so that children are in care that is safe, nurturing, and
supportive of their development. As we see welfare reform efforts require more
and more parents to work, we must not abandon them in their efforts to care for
their children.

Child Welfare and Child Protection

In addition, this budget reflects a clear Administration commitment to the
safety, permanence, and well-being of children who have been abused or neglected
or are in danger of abuse or neglect. Each year, millions of children are the
subject of a report of abuse or neglect. About 40% of these reports are
substantiated, affecting nearly 1 million children a year. At the end of 1995,
over 450,000 children were in foster care, an increase of almost 42% since 1988.
These are large numbers, and the children behind these numbers are the most
vulnerable children, whose safety, well-being, and healthy development depend on
how well our services respond to them and their families.

To strengthen and reform child protection and child welfare services, the FY
1997 budget includes a number of key requests:

* $419 million for a range of discretionary programs that help States and
local communities to protect children by strengthening families and preventing
abuse; intervening when families are in crisis; and when necessary, making
placement decisions to ensure children's safety.

* Continuation of the Federal guarantee of support to states for eligible
children in foster care and special needs children placed in adoption. These
guarantees assure that states will be able to keep children safe even if they
experience unpredictable increases in family crisis; and that children who
cannot return safely to their biological parents have a chance at a loving,
adoptive home.

* Establishment of a Child Welfare Innovation Program which combines funding
from training, research and demonstration, adoption opportunities, and child
abuse discretionary activities. These funds will be used strategically and
flexibly to provide critical, knowledge-based support to states and communities
for research, demonstration, evaluation, training and technical assistance
designed to address emerging issues in the areas of child welfare and child
abuse and neglect.

* Consolidation of Temporary Child Care and Crisis

Nurseries into the Community-Based Family Resource program, in keeping with
the aim of bringing together small categorical programs to provide more
flexibility and responsiveness in preventive and support services at the
community level.

Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative

Adolescence is a developmental period with major milestones, and young
people need special guidance and support to meet its challenges safely and to
move into adulthood successfully. To help ensure a clear message of abstinence
and responsibility, while simultaneously addressing the broader health, social,
education and employment needs of young people, our budget includes a new $30
million teen pregnancy prevention initiative. Teen pregnancy rates remain
alarmingly high in the U.S. The consequences of this problem are serious.
Eighty percent of children born to unwed teenage mothers who have not completed
high school live in poverty. This is likely due to the fact that most of these
children will continue to live in single parent households. Children of teenage
parents are more likely than children born to older parents to die in their
first year of life, have lower cognitive achievement, repeat a grade in school,
be victims of abuse and neglect, and become teenage parents themselves.

To address this serious social problem for our nation, the Department will
use the new funds to implement and evaluate promising prevention strategies in
communities that have demonstrated a commitment to community problem solving.
This effort is an important step forward to ensure safe passages for our
Nation's adolescents.

Programs to Reduce Violent Crime

In an effort to reduce the unacceptable violence that threatens all of us
and cuts short too many lives, our FY 1997 request includes $29 million. Of the
funds requested:

* $13.6 million will continue and increase funding for grants for the
Community Schools Youth Services and Supervision Grant Program. This program
provides communities with resources to develop, coordinate, and deliver academic
and social enrichment which promote the positive and healthy development of
youth, provide links to caring adults, and develop family and community support
in communities beset by crime and violence.

* $15 million, along with funds included in the $32 million Family Violence
program, will support grants for Battered Women's Shelters which will provide
immediate assistance to victims of violence and their dependents.

* $400,000 will continue the activities of the National Domestic Hotline.
This national, 24-hour, toll-free hotline was first funded in FY 1995 and began
providing crisis assistance, counseling, and local shelter referrals across the
country on February 21, 1996. In the first month over 8,800 calls were
answered. The hotline is averaging almost 300 calls a day.


For three years, the Administration and the Department have worked
aggressively to overhaul the nation's welfare system both incrementally through
State waivers, and comprehensively, through fundamental legislative reforms. We
have granted waivers to nearly 40 States, to provide them with the flexibility
to move people out of welfare and into jobs. As a result, nearly ten million
welfare recipients -- about 70 percent of all AFDC recipients -- are in
households where the adults are being required to work, and to take more
responsibility for their families and their future. Welfare caseloads are down
by more than 1.4 million, a decrease of 10 percent, since March 1994; child
poverty is down and child support collections are up. Child support collections
have been increased by using approaches such as income withholding, offset of
income tax refunds, support guidelines and closer links to credit bureaus. In
FY 1996, it is estimated that there will be a total return of almost $4 for
every dollar invested in the administration of the program. In FY 1997, $12.5
billion in child support collections are projected to be, distributed to
families and shared by governments -- an 8 percent gain over FY 1996. These
incremental successes are encouraging, but they are only a beginning.

The FY 1997 budget includes President Clinton's comprehensive welfare reform
plan that promotes work and responsibility and achieves $40 billion in program
savings. The President's plan would replace the AFDC program with a conditional
entitlement with tough time limits and work requirements, while retaining a
strong national safety net for children. At the same time, it ensures that
families will get the child care they need to hold a job and maintain a stable
home. In addition, the child support enforcement provisions include streamlined
paternity establishment, new hire reporting, uniform interstate child support
laws, computerized statewide collections, and drivers license revocation.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will be happy to answer any questions you and
the committee may have at this time.

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