Monday, February 25, 2013

Moolah Monday - Sequestration & Federal Budget Cuts

Shamefully, I've been largely ignorant of the sequestration talks recently.  Honestly I had avoided hearing anything about it until late last week when, at work, I spoke to a lawyer who was referencing possible impacts on court schedules.

This got mie thinking about how sequestration will affect foster care.  For those of us waiting for court dates, will we see longer waits?  What about out agencies?  Will they experience cuts?  Daycare funds?  Medicaid?  Foster care payments?  

Suddenly I'm intrigued - is this what is causing some of the craziness I've been seeing in the local counties recently?  Perhaps.

Before I continue further, it is important to note the difference between local, state, and federal budgets (spending) and therefore local, state, and federal programs.  For example, in our area foster care & adoption do not take place in federal courts but rather county ones.  It is important to know which agencies have funding from which areas to fully understand the impact to your specific programs of interest.  Of course, there is a trickle-down effect from federal funding to state to local jurisdictions, so cuts can be felt broadly even if they don't occur that way.

It is also important to note that I generally support federal spending cuts and my writing this is not a complaint but rather curiosity of resulting effects.  If I ruled the world I'd protect foster care and adoption completely from budget cuts but - well - you don't see mie ruling the world.

I then briefly heard a news story this morning about impacts to our Great State and one caught my attention more than others.  Approximately 4800 students would need to be cut from the head start programs.  I had (and still have) no idea how those cuts would be made and whether our children would be impacted.  For those of you not aware, head start is a program that is offered to 3 & 4 year olds (or younger, in early head start programs) to low-income families.  Most families/children would need to qualify to attend by proving need as they would to receive medicaid, WIC, or most other social services.  There are several qualifications for automatic acceptance to the free-tuition program including whether the child is currently or has ever been in foster care.  We don't currently use this program but it is nice to know it is there if we needed it, Summer included.

I did quick research this morning and thought I'd share what I found.  Happy reading :)

Child-welfare specific cuts - note, foster care payments are exempt from sequestration, for the most part.
General Information  - Medicaid & SNAP are exempt so they will not be seeing cuts.  WIC & HUD funds are subject to cuts.  

The last link brings clarity to the child care question, which is both exempt and non-exempt depending on the type of funding you're talking about.  Less than half of the funding is eligible for sequestration and only 8% of that funding would be cut in sequestration.  Many states have a match program which matches $ for $ depending on whether the state follows federal rules.  SO, about 2% of the annual child care budget would be cut for states with a match program or 4% for states without.  Additionally, many states set aid to foster children as a priority over other needs so foster children would theoretically get first-funding in those states.  

Given this information I'm much less concerned than I was originally when I read about the impact these cuts would have on foster care, foster children, and foster parents.  That being said, many, many of the services provided to families with children in care (transportation & housing vouchers, parenting classes, etc.) are at a higher risk of being cut and I wonder what impact this will have on reunification goals to begin with.  We shall see...

1 comment:

Dana Beam said...

Interesting. Thanks for the info. I hadn't thought about the cuts to the foster care world yet.