Overview of the President's FY 2013 Human Services Budget Proposal

March 15, 2012 

On February 13, 2011, President Obama released his budget proposal for FY2013.  This is the first step in the budget process for the federal fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2012.  Differing from past years, the Senate is using last year’s Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L.111-28) for appropriations targets while the House leadership will be using a budget resolution that is then used to guide the process of appropriations legislation for FY2013. In general, for human services programs, watch the progress and details of Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bills.

Children and Family Support

The budget requests a total $3.9 billion for Child Support Enforcement, which is a decrease of $180 million from FY 2012. Restoring the ability of states to use federal child support incentive funds to match federal child support dollars was not included in this request. This budget request includes a proposed $2.2 billion initiative to modernize the Child Support system and to promote responsible fatherhood. There is proposed $1.4 billion in funding over ten years incentive to states to pass through child support payments to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) families; states would no longer have to reimburse the federal government for money passed through to TANF families . Included in the proposal is “short-term” funding to help states offset state costs to implement pass through. This is expected to result in savings in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Additionally, this budget proposes mandating that child support payments made on behalf of children in foster care be used “in the best interest of the child” rather than having the payments count as general revenue for the state. There is another mandate that would prohibit the use of child support payments to reimburse Medicaid birthing costs. There is a proposed $10 million in grants to states to facilitate non-custodial parent access and visitation with their children.

The proposal continues level funding for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) entitlement to the states.  The budget does not set forth a full legislative reauthorization proposal. However, the budget proposal does include making the TANF Supplemental Grants a permanent part of TANF. The proposal includes $612 million the Contingency Fund, which is the same as FY 2012, and a proposal with no details to restructure the fund. Funding for the $319 million in TANF Supplemental Grants would be offset by funds from the TANF of the $612 million Contingency Fund. 

The President’s proposal includes $3.0 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  There is $2.8 billion in base grants and $200 million in contingency funds. This proposal is down $452 million from those appropriated for FY 2012 levels. 

The budget request includes a total of $7.2 billion for Foster Care and Permanency. $90 million is proposed for the Guardian Assistance Program (GAP), which is an increase of $10 million from FY 2012. The budget proposes increasing the Adoption Assistance program by $42 million to $2.5 billion. The Chafee Foster Care Independence Program would be level funded at $140 million. Included in the proposal is a new pregnancy prevention program for foster care youth. This program would be funded through Title V funds that states do not draw down. Finally, there is a proposed mandate that would require child support payments made on behalf of children in foster care be used in “the best interest of the child” as opposed to being counted as general state revenue.

Funding for the child care and development fund is $6 billion for FY2013 under the President’s request, which is an increase of $825 million from FY 2012. This includes $3.4 billion for the child care entitlement (which is an increase of $500 million), and $2.6 billion in the block grant, which is an increase of $325 million, which would be earmarked to improve quality. There appears to be a forthcoming Administration incentive on quality and quality rating systems. Further information about maintenance of effort and matching requirements is not included in the budget documents.

Similar to the President’s FY 2012 proposal, the FY 2013 proposal requests a significant cut in funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) as well as an overhaul as to how the grants are administered. The proposed FY 2013 level of $350 million is about half of what was requested and authorized in FY 2012. The proposal directs the grants to be administered on a competitive basis with the highest performing Community Action Agencies receiving the funds. It is unclear what the relationship will be for states to the programs under the competitive grants. 

The budget requests that the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) be level funded at just under $1.8 billion. SSBG provides flexible grants to states for uses ranging from child care to residential treatment. 

Nutrition and Food Programs

The President requests a one-year extension of the Recovery Act (P.L.111-5) state option that allows childless adults to receive SNAP/food stamps benefits. The proposal also restores the SNAP/food stamp benefit cuts included as part of the Child Nutrition reauthorization (P.L.111-296). In the budget, the sunset date for the SNAP/food stamp benefit would revert back to March 31, 2014. This would restore the cut made in P.L.111-296, Child Nutrition reauthorization. The SNAP estimate assumes that SSI for some elderly and disabled refugees is restored resulting in some increased usage and mandatory pass through of child support to families resulting in some SNAP savings 

The budget proposes funds to implement the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (P.L.111-296), with a particular focus on school meal improvements and expanding breakfast and child care feeding. The budget proposal anticipates implementation of P.L. 111-296, which increases access to the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs and adjust the food offered in these programs. $19.7 million is the anticipated costs for participation and increased food standards to implement P.L.111-296. This is a $1.5 billion increase from FY 2012.

The President’s request includes a proposal of $7.04 billion for the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), an increase of $423 million from the 2012 level.

Refugee and Immigration Programs

The budget proposal includes $41 million to provide elderly and disabled refugees Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in FY 2013 and $42 million in FY 2014, shifting the cost burden off the states. The proposal would allow eligible refugees stay on SSI through 2013 and 2014 as well as restore SNAP benefits. 

The budget requests a total of $805 million for refugee related programs, which include assisting newly-arriving refugees with transitional assistance, language and vocational training; it also includes funds for unaccompanied alien children, and services to assist victims of human trafficking and victims of torture. Included in the proposal is $5 million for training and coordinating systems that are most likely to come in contact with youth domestic sex trafficked victims.

The President requests $70 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which is a reduction from the FY 2012 level of $240 million .  

The President requests $112 million for the E-Verify program. 

The President requests $11 million for immigrant integration and citizenship programs. $9 million of the funding will be awarded on a competitive grant basis to local immigrant-serving organizations.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sheri Steisel or Emily Wengrovius or the Washington DC office at 202-624-5400.