Administration for Children and Families (ACF): Mandatory
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 Budget Overview
(Dollars in millions)
|Current Law Budget Authority||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Child Care Entitlement to States||2,917||2,917||2,917||—|
|Child Care and Development Fund (non-add) /1||5,275||5,352||5,352||—|
|Child Support Enforcement and Family Support||4,131||4,038||4,105||+67|
|Children's Research and Technical Assistance /2||48||34||37||+3|
|Foster Care and Permanency||7,429||7,343||7,601||+258|
|LIHEAP Contingency Fund||—||—||—||—|
|Promoting Safe and Stable Families (mandatory only) /3||451||470||345||-125|
|Social Services Block Grant||1,656||1,661||1,700||+39|
|Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)||16,737||16,737||16,739||+2|
|TANF Contingency Fund /4||612||608||608||—|
|Subtotal, TANF (non-add)||17,349||17,345||17,347||+2|
|Total, Current Law Budget Authority||33,981||33,808||34,052||+244|
|Proposed Law Budget Authority||2014||2015||2016||2016
|Child Care Entitlement to States||2,917||2,917||6,582||+3,665|
|Child Care and Development Fund (non-add)||5,275||5,352||9,387||+4,035|
|Child Support Enforcement and Family Support||4,131||4,038||4,215||+177|
|Children's Research and Technical Assistance||48||34||37||+3|
|Foster Care and Permanency||7,429||7,343||8,301||+688|
|LIHEAP Contingency Fund||—||—||1,130||+1,130|
|Promoting Safe and Stable Families (mandatory only)||451||470||435||-35|
|Social Services Block Grant /5||1,656||1,661||2,085||+424|
|TANF Contingency Fund||612||608||—||-608|
|TANF Program Improvement||—||—||10||+10|
|Pathways to Jobs /6||—||—||598||+598|
|Subtotal, TANF (non-add)||17,349||17,345||17,347||+2|
|Total, Proposed Law Budget Authority||33,981||33,808||39,852||+6,054|
1/ The Child Care and Development Fund includes mandatory funding from the Child Care Entitlement to States and discretionary funding from the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
2/ Includes $15 million in mandatory funds transferred from the TANF Contingency Fund for Welfare Research in FY 2016.
3/ The total for Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) includes Abstinence Education, the Personal Responsibility Education Program, and PSSF mandatory funding. In addition, there is a discretionary appropriation of $59.8 million for PSSF in FY 2014 and FY 2015 and $89.8 million in FY 2016.
4/ The Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-275) extended the Contingency Fund through the end of FY 2014, and targeted $2 million of the $612 million for the Contingency Fund for each of fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to establish the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235), appropriated $608 million for the Contingency Fund in fiscal years 2015 and 2016, reserving in FY 2015 $15 million for welfare research funds and $10 million for a U.S. Census Bureau study.
5/ The proposed law reflects the reauthorization of the Health Profession Opportunity Grants and a new Upward Mobility proposal.
6/ Of the $598 million for the Pathways to Jobs initiative, the proposed law would reserve $15 million for Welfare Research and $10 million for a U.S. Census Bureau study in FY 2016.
ACF Mandatory Programs and Services
The FY 2016 Budget request for ACF mandatory programs is $39.9 billion. ACF serves the nation’s most vulnerable populations through mandatory programs including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Child Care Entitlement to States, Child Support Enforcement, Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Guardianship Assistance, Independent Living, and Promoting Safe and Stable Families.
The Budget guarantees access to high-quality child care for low income working families with young children; encourages the use of evidence-based interventions to improve outcomes for children in foster care and to decrease the over‑prescription of psychotropic medications; focuses on preventing the removal of children from their families; limits the use of institutional settings and group homes for foster care placements; increases the child support that is paid directly to families; promotes fathers’ involvement in the lives of their children; and proposes to repurpose the TANF Contingency Fund into a fund for subsidized employment.
Child Care Entitlement to States
The Budget proposes a historic investment in child care, to close the gap between the cost of high quality care and what families can afford while insisting that child care is not only safe, but supports children’s healthy development and their future academic achievement and success.
Guaranteeing Access to Child Care to Support Working Families and Children
A continually growing body of evidence suggests early and continuous exposure to high-quality child care is beneficial for child development and is most impactful for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. High-quality, stable, and reliable child care can improve children’s cognitive and social outcomes and reduce later costs to society. In addition to increasing the likelihood children will be in safe nurturing learning environments, access to high quality child care also benefits children by helping parents increase their employment and earnings, thereby reducing financial hardship and possibly parental stress. The FY 2016 Budget makes an unprecedented and historic commitment to improving access to high-quality, affordable child care for low income children and addressing prohibitively high child care costs for working families by investing $82 billion in mandatory funds in the Child Care Development Fund over 10 years. The Budget commits to providing child care assistance to more than 2.6 million children by 2025, nearly tripling the number of infants and toddlers to 1.8 million. In creating a child care guarantee for children ages 0 through 3 years old in families with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, this historic investment will pay off by drawing into the labor force primary caregivers of young children, in particular young mothers, who have seen disproportionate declines in labor force participation since 2008.
The Budget provides funding to expand child care assistance to all eligible families with children under age four by 2025. An additional $82 billion investment will ensure that all low-income families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line with children ages three and under have access to high-quality child care so that parents can work, attend school, or participate in training.
With the Child Care Development Fund caseload currently at the lowest point in 15 years, this investment will expand access to high-quality care for approximately 1.15 million additional infants and toddlers at the end of 10 years. In 2025, over 2.6 million children will be served by the Child Care and Development Fund, including nearly 1.8 million infants and toddlers. This investment complements a major investment in preschool through the Department of Education, $1.1 billion in discretionary funding to increase the amount of time that children spend in Head Start services, and $650 million in discretionary funds to expand Early Head Start and increase the supply of high-quality care through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships (both described in the ACF Discretionary chapter). Together, these are key elements of the Administration’s broader education agenda, designed to ensure a cohesive and well-aligned continuum of early learning for children from birth to age five that supports continuity, healthy development, learning, and stability for children in the critical years before preschool.
Total funding for the Child Care and Development Fund is $9.4 billion in FY 2016, which includes $266 million in additional discretionary funding to help states raise the bar on quality by implementing the new requirements of the recent Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization, as well as $100 million for demonstrations to test child care models that better serve working families including the unique needs of families with non-traditional schedules
Child Support Enforcement and Family Support Programs
Child Support Highlights
The Child Support program continues to make strong gains in establishing child support orders and increasing child support collections. In FY 2013, the last year for which final data are available:
- Child support collections increased by 1 percent from FY 2012 to $28 billion.
- 1.6 million paternities were established and acknowledged.
- Paternity was established for 96 percent of Title IV-D out-of-wedlock births, exceeding the target of 93 percent.
- Child support orders were established for 83 percent of child support cases, which surpassed the target of 77 percent.
- For every dollar invested in the program, $5.31 in child support was collected, which exceeded the performance target of $4.88.
- Six tribal programs became comprehensive, fully operational program service providers, bringing the total number of comprehensive Tribal Child Support Programs to 51.
Child Support is a joint federal, state, tribal, and local partnership that seeks to ensure financial and emotional support for children from both parents by locating non-custodial parents, establishing paternity, and establishing and enforcing child support orders. The Budget request is $4.2 billion in budget authority in FY 2016 for Child Support Enforcement and Family Support Programs.
Over the past year, the ACF issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to update child support regulations within current law. HHS intends to fully consider any comments received on the rule before proceeding with a final rulemaking. Notwithstanding the rule, HHS recognizes a number of areas where additional legislative reforms could further improve the child support program.
The Budget promotes strong families and responsible fatherhood by ensuring that children benefit when parents pay support, promoting parenting time arrangements, and improving enforcement tools. The Budget includes $2.8 billion over 10 years for an initiative to modernize the Child Support program and to promote responsible fatherhood. Of those net 10 year costs, $2.3 billion affects the Child Support program; the Supplemental Security Income and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program realize savings of $585 million, $130 million affects Medicaid, and $476 million affects Foster Care. This Budget also includes funding specifically to encourage states to pass through child support payments to families, making sure more child support collections reach children rather than being retained by the federal and state governments, and a child support research fund to encourage state programs to implement family-centered services.
The Budget provides $10 million annually for grants to states to facilitate non-custodial parents’ access to and visitation with their children.
Other family support programs funded in this account include Payments to Territories and the Repatriation program. Payments to Territories fund approximately $33 million in assistance for eligible aged, blind, and disabled residents of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Children’s Research and Technical Assistance
The Budget request includes $37 million for activities in two areas: child support training and technical assistance and the operation of the Federal Parent Locator Service, which assists states in locating absent parents. Of the total, $12 million will fund child support training and technical assistance and $25 million will support the Federal Parent Locator Service.
Funding for Welfare Research, which was previously funded in this account at $15 million, is requested as part of the TANF Contingency Fund. Support for the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, previously funded in this account, is requested in ACF’s discretionary budget.
Foster Care and Permanency
The Budget request for the Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Guardianship Assistance, and Independent Living programs is $8.0 billion in FY 2016 budget authority. These programs, authorized by title IV‑E of the Social Security Act, support safe living environments for vulnerable children and prepare older foster youth for independence.
The Budget requests $586 million over 10 years in matching funds for prevention and post‑permanency services included as part of the child’s case plan. Most of the services funded must be evidence-based or evidence-informed. Prevention and permanency interventions can reduce the likelihood that a child will have to be removed from a family and can increase the likelihood that recently established permanency arrangements can be sustained. The Budget also includes savings of $69 million over ten years to promote family-based foster care for children with behavioral and mental health needs, as an alternative to congregate care, and provides increased oversight of congregate care when such placements are determined to be necessary. An additional $114 million over 10 years is included in the Budget to provide enhanced start-up funding for tribes seeking to implement their own child welfare programs.
The Budget includes mandatory funding in ACF to support a collaborative demonstration project with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to address the over-prescription of psychotropic medications for children in foster care. This investment includes $250 million over five years in ACF, paired with $500 million in new performance based incentive funds in CMS, to improve outcomes for these children.
Demonstration to Address the Over Prescription of Psychotropic Medications for Children in Foster Care
The FY 2016 Budget includes a five-year collaborative demonstration project between ACF and CMS to encourage states to provide evidence-based psychosocial interventions to children and youth in the foster care system in order to reduce the over prescription of psychotropic medications and to improve outcomes for these young people.
The need for action in this area is evident. ACF data from 2009 to 2011 show that 18 percent of the approximately 400,000 children in foster care were taking one or more psychotropic medications at the time they were surveyed. The Government Accountability Office has estimated an even higher range of 21 to 39 percent. Children in foster care are prescribed psychotropic medications at far higher rates than other children served by Medicaid, and often in amounts that often exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines.
The existing evidence-base in the area of trauma-informed psychosocial interventions warrants a large initial investment to expand access to effective interventions. The ACF investment of $250 million over five years would fund infrastructure and capacity building, while the Medicaid investment of $500 million over five years would provide incentive payments to states that demonstrate measured improvement.
The Budget also includes $45 million in FY 2016 and $476 million over 10 years to require that child support payments made on behalf of children in foster care are used in the best interests of the child.
The FY 2016 Budget includes $5.0 billion in budget authority to support the Foster Care program, including maintenance payments to children. This amount is a $371 million increase above FY 2015. The proposed level of funding will provide assistance and support to an estimated 168,900 children each month, which is approximately 6,600 more children than in FY 2015. States have made important reforms in response to changes in Federal laws over the past 15 years that have focused on prevention and permanency. The proportion of all children in foster care who are title IV‑E eligible continues to decline, in large part because eligibility for federal foster care is tied to the income eligibility standards effective in 1996 for Aid to Families with Dependent Children, which have declined in real dollar terms since then. The federal title IV‑E participation rate for maintenance payments stood at approximately 51.8 percent of all children in foster care in FY 2000, while in FY 2014, the federal title IV-E participation rate was approximately 41 percent of all children in foster care nationally. This funding will also support implementation of new requirements for IV-E agencies from the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014, which was signed into law on September 29, 2014. See the ACF Discretionary Chapter for information on additional proposals to address human trafficking.
The Budget includes $2.5 billion in budget authority for the Adoption Assistance program, an increase of $53 million above FY 2015. An estimated average of 444,000 children per month, an increase of 7,000 over FY 2015, will qualify for this assistance in FY 2016.
The Budget includes $123 million for the Guardianship Assistance program, an increase of $24 million above the FY 2015 enacted level of $99 million and an increase of $15 million above the updated FY 2015 current law estimate. The increase is due to a higher take‑up rate in this program. The program is continuing to grow, and we expect there will be an increase in the number of children participating in the Guardianship Assistance program as new states and tribes begin programs, and established states expand the implementation of their programs. Under this program, state title IV‑E agencies provide a subsidy on behalf of a child to a relative who has been granted legal guardianship of that child. The goal of the program is to keep children with relatives – rather than in foster care – when the relative’s home is a safe and appropriate placement for them. An estimated average of 25,100 children per month, an increase of 3,000 over FY 2015, will participate in FY 2016.
The Budget also includes $140 million for the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, the same level as in FY 2015. This program funds services for youth who are likely to remain in foster care until they turn 18 and current or former foster children between the ages of 18 and 21. The Budget proposes to allow those states that provide foster care up to age 21 to use Chafee program funds for current or former foster children through age 23 to prevent an abrupt end to services when children age out of foster care in those states.
The Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Guardianship Assistance, and Independent Living programs demonstrated success in improving safety, permanency, and well-being of children in FY 2013, the latest year for which complete performance data are available. Working with the states, these programs support the goal of minimizing disruptions to the continuity of family and other relationships for children in foster care by decreasing the number of placement settings per year for a child in care. In FY 2013, over 85 percent of children who had been in care less than 12 months had 2 or fewer placement settings, which exceeded ACF’s target of 80 percent. Research shows that placement stability is necessary for children and youth to be able to form and maintain consistent relationships with caretakers and other adults, which is a core skill for life long success.
LIHEAP Contingency Fund
The Budget includes $1.1 billion in FY 2016 and $8.1 billion over 10 years to establish a contingency fund, which 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.
Promoting Safe and Stable Families
The Budget includes $435 million for the mandatory portion of the Promoting Safe and Stable Families account. Of this amount, $345 million supports the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, $75 million supports the Personal Responsibility Education Program, and $15 million supports the reauthorization of the Family Connection Grants. The Budget proposes to reauthorize the Personal Responsibility Education Program and the Family Connection Grants through FY 2016.
The Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-34) reauthorized the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program through FY 2016. This funding will continue support for a variety of state child welfare activities, including family preservation services; community based family support services; time-limited reunification services; and adoption promotion and support services. Under the reauthorization, states are required to address trauma that children in the child welfare system have experienced during their lives and to have explicit protocols for oversight and monitoring of psychotropic medications. These efforts and the evidence base developed from them have helped build the foundation for the collaborative demonstration to address the over-prescription of psychotropic medications for children in foster care proposed in the Budget, in partnership with CMS.
In FY 2013, the adoption placement rate for children from foster care moving into permanent homes was 12 percent (50,608 children adopted), exceeding the target of 10.5 percent. By monitoring the adoption rate, ACF is helping to ensure that there is a focus on moving children from foster care to a permanent home. Since many children are best served by returning to their homes, the target for the adoption rate is not set very high.
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)
The Social Services Block Grant is a capped entitlement which provides flexible grants to states according to population size for the provision of social services ranging from child care to residential treatment. States have broad discretion over the use of these funds. Social Services Block Grant funds support a variety of initiatives to support services for low-income and vulnerable individuals such as protective services, special services to persons with disabilities, adoption services, case management, health-related services, transportation support, foster care, substance abuse services, home-delivered meals, independent and transitional living, and employment-related services.
The Social Services Block Grant, including funding for the Health Professions Opportunity Grants, is funded at $2.1 billion for FY 2016. The Budget supports a reauthorization of the Health Professions Opportunity Grants and proposes to consolidate the authority to operate this program in ACF, expand the list of partners to consult, and allow funds to be used for subsidized employment. Reauthorization would provide $85 million per year for these grants.
The Budget also includes $1.5 billion in additional funding for the Social Services Block Grant, over five years, to support the Upward Mobility Project. The Project will allow up to 10 states, localities, or consortia of states and communities more flexibility to use funds from up to four federal block grants – ACF’s Social Services Block Grant and Community Services Block Grant and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships Program – for efforts designed to promote self-sufficiency, improve educational and other outcomes for children, and enhance communities’ ability to provide opportunities for families. Projects will have to rely on evidence‑based programs or be designed to test new ideas and will have a significant evaluation component. The $1.5 billion in additional funding will be awarded competitively by ACF, in consultation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to support Upward Mobility Projects.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
TANF provides $17.3 billion annually to states, territories, and eligible tribes to assist low-income families and improve employment and other outcomes. For FY 2015, The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113‑235) extended all TANF grants through September 30, 2015 and provided $608 million annually for the TANF Contingency Fund in FY 2015 and FY 2016. In FY 2015, this amount includes a transfer of $15 million for Welfare Research, previously funded through Children’s Research and Technical Assistance, as well as a $10 million transfer for the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation.
When Congress takes up reauthorization, the Administration will be prepared to work with lawmakers to strengthen the program’s effectiveness in accomplishing its goals. This effort should include using performance indicators to drive program improvement and ensuring that states have the flexibility to engage recipients in the most effective activities to promote success in the workforce, including families with serious barriers to employment.
The Budget includes a proposal to redirect $10 million from the $608 million TANF Contingency Fund for program improvements, including technical assistance for state programs, monitoring, research, and evaluation. The Budget also proposes prohibiting the use of nongovernmental third party expenditures to meet state Maintenance of Effort requirements and a provision to ensure that states use TANF funds for benefits and services for needy families. The Budget also includes a general provision to transfer $15 million from the Contingency Fund to Welfare Research and $10 million to the Census Bureau to support the Survey of Income and Program Participation, consistent with the FY 2015 appropriations funding.
The Budget also re-proposes the Pathways to Jobs initiative within TANF, which would repurpose the balance of the Contingency Fund to support work opportunities through subsidized employment for low‑income parents and guardians, and youth, including summer jobs for youth. Building on the successes of the expired TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, Pathways to Jobs will target individuals who are either eligible for TANF cash assistance (including custodial and noncustodial parents with a child eligible for TANF cash assistance) or who are below 200 percent of federal poverty level and face other barriers to employment. The program would permit up to 100 percent coverage for wages, workplace benefits, training, and administrative costs through the first 90 days of employment for eligible individuals, including eligible summer employment. Partial subsidies are also allowable after the first 90 days. State subsidized employment efforts through Pathways to Jobs would be required to satisfy one or more of the four statutory proposes of the TANF program and to comply with requirements prohibiting displacement of other workers. The proposal also includes statutory changes necessary to give ACF the authority to collect data necessary to evaluate and oversee this program, and the Budget recommends setting aside up to one percent for national evaluation of the program. Additionally, the Budget proposes to allow states the option to use an alternative approach to the Income and Eligibility Verification System (IEVS) if the state can show that the alternative meets the purposes of the IEVS requirements and is equally or more cost effective.
FY2015 ACF Mandatory Legislative Proposals
(Dollars in millions)
Proposed Law Outlays
|2016||2016 - 2020||2016 - 2025|
|Child Care Entitlement to States||2,969||23,728||78,327|
|Child Support Enforcement and Family Support Programs 1/||110||916||2,287|
|Foster Care and Permanency||182||870||1,358|
|Promoting Safe and Stable Families||2||246||389|
|Social Services Block Grant /2||304||1,795||1,841|
|Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)||-||-||-|
|Total, ACF Legislative Proposals||4,392||25,936||73,161|
1/ The Child Support outlays in this table are net of estimated savings in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ($534 million) and the Supplemental Security Income program ($51 million), which would result from this proposal. These outlays include the impact on federal offsetting collections. The impact on Medicaid ($130 million over ten years) is displayed in the Medicaid table.
2/ The Health Profession Opportunity Grants and new Upward Mobility proposal are within the Social Services Block Grant account.