Administration for Children and Families (ACF): Discretionary
The Administration for Children and Families promotes the economic and social well being of children, youth, families, and communities, focusing particular attention on vulnerable populations such as children in low income families, refugees, and Native Americans.
ACF Discretionary Budget Overview
(Dollars in millions)
|Early Childhood Programs||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Child Care & Development Block Grant (discretionary)||2,358||2,435||2,805||+370|
|Transitional and Medical Services||391||383||427||+43|
|Victims of Trafficking||14||16||22||+6|
|Other Refugee Programs||213||213||213||--|
|Subtotal, Refugee Programs||1,530||1,560||1,629||+69|
|Programs for Vulnerable Populations||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Chafee Education & Training for Foster Youth||43||43||43||--|
|Family Violence Prevention||138||140||162||+23|
|Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs||114||114||123||+9|
|Child Abuse Prevention||93||94||114||+20|
|Child Welfare Programs||345||335||338||+4|
|Promoting Safe and Stable Families (discretionary)||60||60||90||+30|
|Administration for Native Americans||47||47||50||+3|
|Energy Assistance Innovation Fund||--||--||200||+200|
|Subtotal, LIHEAP Budget Authority||3,390||3,390||3,390||--|
|Community Service Programs||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Community Services Block Grant||668||674||674||--|
|Other Community Services Programs||54||55||19||-36|
|Subtotal, Community Service Programs||722||729||693||-36|
|Other ACF Programs||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Disaster Human Services Case Management||2||2||2||--|
|Social Services Research & Demonstration||6||6||18||+12|
|National Survey, Child & Adolescent Well-Being (non-add)||--||--||6||+6|
|Early Childhood Evaluation (non add)||--||--||3||+3|
|LIHEAP Evaluation (non-add)||--||--||3||+3|
|PHS Evaluation Fund Appropriation (non‑add)||6||--||--||--|
|Center, Faith Based/Community Initiatives (non-add)||1||1||--||-1|
|Totals and Less Funds from Other Sources||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Total, Program Level||17,684||17,791||19,825||+2,034|
|PHS Evaluation Fund Appropriation||6||--||--||--|
|Total, Discretionary Budget Authority||17,678||17,791||19,825||+2,034|
(including those financed with Mandatory Funds)
2016 +/- 2015: +40
ACF Discretionary Programs and Services
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) plays a critical role in protecting the most vulnerable Americans, especially children, and providing them opportunities to fulfill their potential. The FY 2016 Budget requests $19.8 billion, an increase of $2 billion above FY 2015. This includes significant new resources to expand access to high-quality early care and education for young children as part of the President’s plan to help America’s children succeed in school and in life. The Budget also supports other important programs that serve our nation’s most vulnerable children and families, including refugees, unaccompanied children, victims of domestic trafficking and family violence, as well as runaway and homeless youth.
Serving Americans at Key Stages of Life
The beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success in school and in life. The evidence from the field is clear -- children who attend high-quality early learning programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers than those who do not.
The Budget renews an ambitious plan to create a continuum of early learning opportunities from birth through age five by providing high-quality preschool for every child, building the supply of high quality early learning opportunities for young children, and expanding investments in voluntary, evidence‑based home visiting programs.
Head Start: Since FY 2008, Head Start funding has increased by more than $3.5 billion, and the FY 2016 Budget continues these historic gains byincluding an additional $1.5 billion above FY 2015 to strengthen Head Start services and expand access to Early Head Start, including through Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships.
Research shows that full-day, full-year early learning programs produce stronger outcomes for the children. To that end, the FY 2016 request includes an additional $1.1 billion to ensure that all Head Start programs provide services for a full day and a full‑school year, which more closely aligns with programs that demonstrate strong outcomes.
The FY 2016 request also includes an additional $150 million over FY 2015 to further expand access to high-quality early learning programs for infants and toddlers through Early Head Start and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. The number of infants and toddlers served by Early Head Start has nearly doubled since FY 2008. The Budget supports further expansion of these Partnerships, which provide funding to Early Head Start programs to expand and work with child care providers to deliver high-quality full day services for tens of thousands of children.
In FY 2016, ACF will continue to require grantees that do not meet rigorous quality benchmarks to compete for ongoing federal funding. The Budget includes $25 million, the same as FY 2015, to minimize the potential for service disruptions for children as incumbent and new grantees make transitions through this process.
Child Care: The FY 2016 request for the Child Care and Development Fund is $9.4 billion, including $6.6 billion in mandatory funding and $2.8 billion in discretionary funding. The Budget includes $82 billion in mandatory funding above current law over ten years to ensure that all low-income working families with young children have access to high-quality child care.
Of the $2.8 billion available in discretionary funds for child care,$266 million is targeted to help states implement new provisions of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act reauthorization that will increase quality, ensure continuity of services, and provide parents clear information about child care providers so they can make informed choices. This funding level also includes $100 million for new Child Care Pilots for Working Families that will test innovative strategies to better serve working families by addressing gaps in the delivery of child care.
Serving Vulnerable Children
The FY 2016 Budget includes critical investments to better serve children in state child welfare systems, and runaway and homeless youth.
Promoting Safe and Stable Families: The Budget requests an additional $30 million in discretionary funding to support states and tribes in operating a coordinated program of family preservation services, community-based family support services, time-limited reunification services, and adoption promotion and support services. Of the additional funding proposed, $20 million will be targeted to increase child welfare services capacity for tribes, $7 million will support service delivery in rural communities, and $3 million will enhance research, evaluation, and technical assistance.
Child Abuse Prevention: The Budget requests an additional $15 million to prevent traffickers from luring children and youth in the child welfare system into prostitution and other forms of criminal activity. Young people receiving child welfare services can be vulnerable to trafficking, and these funds will identify and better serve victims and those at risk of being victimized. Funds will also be used to conduct a robust evaluation to develop a research base of promising practices. In addition, the Budget includes $5 million for new competitive grants to identify and evaluate best practices for child protection investigations.
Runaway and Homeless Youth: In FY 2016, the Budget requests an additional $9 million. Of this total, $5 million will expand services in the Transitional Living Program, including services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth; $2 million will support the Prevalence, Needs, and Characteristics of Homeless Youth study; and $2 million will enhance on-site monitoring. These investments align with the Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness by better serving homeless youth.
Protecting Vulnerable Individuals
Refugees and Unaccompanied Children: ACF is a key partner in Administration-wide efforts to support refugee arrivals and help them begin new lives. ACF provides refugees with time-limited cash and medical assistance, as well as social services including job training and English instruction so refugees, asylees, and other new humanitarian arrivals eligible for refugee benefits can become self-sufficient as quickly as possible. The Budget will support 143,000 new arrivals, an increase of 37 percent since FY 2008.
ACF has long provided assistance to victims of international human trafficking, identifying foreign‑born persons victimized in the United States and making them eligible for refugee assistance. The Budget continues service levels for foreign victims of human trafficking and includes an increase of $6 million to expand services for domestic victims of human trafficking. Competitive grants will be awarded to organizations working with at-risk populations, including runaway youth and victims of domestic violence, and used to identify victims and connect them to the full range of services they need to restore their lives. Funds will also be used to train professionals most likely to encounter victims, including health care workers, criminal justice personnel, and teachers, to better align the trafficking hotline with hotlines maintained by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, and to demonstrate effective housing solutions for young victims of domestic trafficking.
Unaccompanied Children: ACF provides shelter to unaccompanied children who are apprehended by immigration authorities. By law, ACF must take custody of most unaccompanied children within 72 hours. These children remain in ACF’s care until they can be placed with sponsors, usually parents or other relatives, who assume responsibility for their care while their immigration cases are processed.
In the summer of 2014, the Administration responded to a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied children who were apprehended on the southwest border with an aggressive, coordinated federal response focused on providing humanitarian care for the children as well as on stronger deterrence, enforcement, foreign cooperation, and capacity for federal agencies to ensure our border remains secure. ACF utilized temporary bed space at military bases to provide temporary care for the increased number of children. By August, ACF was able to resume caring for all children in permanent standard facilities, closing the temporary beds established on military bases. In part due to actions taken by the Administration over the past six months, including increased border security and assistance to Central American governments to curb the flow of unaccompanied children, the rate of apprehensions at the border in FY 2015 is below the FY 2014 rate. In light of these efforts and the recent fall in the number of children placed in ACF’s custody, DHS, HHS, and the other agencies responsible for monitoring and serving unaccompanied children expect arrivals to remain stable.
Given the range of external factors that may impact the migration of these children, there is inherent uncertainty in this area. The Budget includes level base funding from FY 2015 at $948 million and creates a contingency fund that would trigger additional funds if caseloads exceed levels that could be supported with base funding and any carryover funds from the prior year.
Family Violence Prevention and Services: The Budget includes $162 million, an increase of $23 million, for Family Violence Prevention and Services, the primary federal funding stream that provides shelter and supportive services for victims of family violence, domestic violence, and dating violence, and their dependents. Of the additional funds requested in
FY 2016, $15 million will help address the unmet need for emergency shelter and for supportive services such as legal advocacy, counseling, and safety planning. A portion of these funds will also be used to develop and test comprehensive service models for children and youth who have been exposed to domestic violence. This effort will assist in responding to the most requested service for parents receiving domestic violence services. The Budget also provides an additional $8 million to expand the capacity of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, to ensure timely response to calls, increase bilingual services, and expand online chatting and texting services.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The Budget includes $3.4 billion in discretionary funding for LIHEAP, the same as FY 2015. A new mechanism will provide additional mandatory funds triggered by significant increases in the number of eligible low-income households, the price of fuel, or extreme cold at the beginning of winter.
To better address both the short and long-term needs of low-income households, the budget proposes increased emphasis on activities that increase energy efficiency, such as weatherization. LIHEAP households often live in housing that is less energy-efficient than the homes of higher income families and are more likely to rely on more expensive fuels such as oil and propane. In some cases, energy efficiency investments, including switching to less expensive fuels, can significantly reduce families’ energy bills over the long‑term. Despite the potential benefits of improving energy efficiency in low income households, only a few states spend more than 15 percent of their LIHEAP formula funds on energy efficiency measures. To promote greater investment in these longer term strategies, the Budget requires states to dedicate at least 10 percent of their LIHEAP allocations to weatherization and other energy efficiency activities to give states the flexibility to spend up to 40 percent of their allocation on energy efficiency if they choose to do so.
The Budget also includes $200 million to test innovative strategies to serve LIHEAP households, including reducing energy use, supporting fuel switching, reducing energy bills, and smoothing energy costs to avoid large spikes during some parts of the year. Funds would be competitively awarded to states to support partnerships between utilities and local community-based organizations.
Native Americans: Generation Indigenous is an Administration-wide initiative to better coordinate demonstration results from efforts across the Federal government to serve Native youth. The Administration for Native Americans in ACF promotes cultural preservation and economic self-sufficiency for tribes and native organizations.
Along with the Indian Health Service, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Administration for Native Americans will support this initiative with an additional $3 million for a special program to increase and improve Native American language instruction across the educational continuum.
Community Services Programs: The Budget includes $674 million for the Community Services Block Grant, the same as FY 2015, and supports ongoing reforms that strengthen accountability and performance management at the federal, state and local levels. ACF will establish a set of national organizational standards that states will use to ensure local agencies have the appropriate organizational capacity to successfully meet community needs. This investment is also part of a new Upward Mobility Project proposed in the Budget, which will allow ten states, localities or consortia of the two to blend funding across all or some of four programs – the Social Services Block Grant, Community Services Block Grant, Community Development Block Grant, and HOME within the Department of Housing and Urban Development – in exchange for more accountability for results. Pilot projects will implement evidence-based or promising strategies for helping individuals succeed in the labor market and improving economic mobility, children’s outcomes, and the ability of communities to expand opportunity. Funding is not requested for the Rural Community Facilities program or the Community Economic Development program. ACF will collaborate on the Healthy Food Financing Initiative funded through the Department of Treasury.
Ensuring Program Effectiveness
ACF ensures that its programs are effective and strives for continuous improvement in program implementation.
Evaluation and Innovation: This Budget dedicates resources for research and evaluation across a range of programs. Taken together with existing authorities and funding for research, these proposals will help ACF advance toward a vision in which every ACF program will continually create and use evidence to innovate, learn, and improve. Increased funding of $12 million within the Social Service Research and Demonstration program includes $6 million to support the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing, which provides critical information that is foundational to ACF’s efforts to improve the social and emotional welfare of children in and out of foster care. In addition, $3 million is requested to help identify the features of early child care and education that are most important in supporting early childhood development. The remaining $3 million is for an evaluation of LIHEAP. The Budget also increases the child care research and evaluation set-aside from $10 million to $14 million, and allows up to 1 percent of the Head Start funding for full-day, full-year programming to be used for research and evaluation.
Federal Administration: The Budget includes $212 million, $11 million above FY 2015, to cover the cost of administering programs across ACF, including staffing and office space. The Budget will support ACF’s participation in government-wide efforts to reduce square footage, improve energy efficiency, and reduce utility costs over the long-term. Specifically, additional funds will support the consolidation of ACF’s headquarters staff in Washington, DC, and the moves in the regions. The Budget aligns funding for the Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships within the Office of the Secretary, where the Center is administered.