Children and Families Continue to be a Priority in President Obama’s Final Budget
Gabriel Vasquez (Former Staff)Federal Budget
Washington – President Obama’s final budget request to Congress includes strong provisions that would provide relief to more than 15.5 million children in poverty.
The president’s proposed Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) budget expands investments and makes improvements to services delivered to children and families in key areas, including access to healthcare, child care, early childhood education, housing and homelessness, and child welfare.
“The idea of the American Dream starts with our kids, and we thank the Administration for recognizing that,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children. “The president’s budget works toward reducing poverty, increasing opportunity, expanding investment, and strengthening support for the nation’s most vulnerable children, and their families. We urge Congress to take the president’s budget seriously and live up to our nation’s commitment to the next generation.”
Reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Over CHIP’s 19 years, the program has had strong bipartisan support as lawmakers have worked together to extend both the program and its funding a number of times. The reason is simple, CHIP is the best option for children, and will continue to be the best option in the foreseeable future.
The president’s budget extends CHIP funding through FY2019, aligning federal CHIP funding with CHIP’s authorization period. It makes permanent the Express Lane Eligibility (ELE) option for states. ELE is designed to improve coverage for eligible but unenrolled children in CHIP and Medicaid.
The budget also lifts the Medicaid exclusion for children in inpatient psychiatric facilities, requiring Medicaid to cover Early and Periodic Screening and Treatment benefits for kids and ensures full Medicaid coverage for pregnant post-partum Medicaid beneficiaries.
Investing in Child Care and Early Learning
The president’s budget expands access to child care for low-and-moderate income, working families with an $82 billion budget request for the Child and Development Care Fund over 10 years. It also triples the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CCDCTC) for families with children under age 5 and makes the full credit available for families earning up to $120,000 per year.
Additionally, the budget proposal includes a $434 million increase for Head Start, a $75 billion Preschool for All Initiative to increase preschool access to low and moderate-income families, $20 million for a new home visiting initiative for children in rural and tribal areas, and an $80 million increase in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Preschool Grants.
“Expanding access to quality child care for low-income families and early childhood education to young students, particularly children of color, is a proven way to increase educational and economic outcomes for working families,” Lesley said. “Investing in these programs will help our most vulnerable children and families succeed.”
Reducing Child Poverty and Homelessness
The president’s budget includes strong provisions to reduce child poverty fight family homelessness, two critical needs to address the staggering 15.5 percent childhood poverty rate in America.
The president calls for an $8 billion increase over five years for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the primary cash assistance program for low-income families with children. TANF funding has not been adjusted for inflation since its inception in 1996. And perhaps one of the Administration’s boldest commitments, the budget calls for an $11 billion investment over 10 years to support and house homeless families. Of that amount, $8.8 billion would go to housing vouchers and $2.2 billion for short-term assistance.
“While we’re pleased to see that the president takes family homelessness serious, addressing family homelessness should include supports to break the barriers that prevent families from having stable housing,” Lesley said. “This includes addressing all forms of family homelessness, not just those families who are on the streets or in shelters.”
Making Sure Every Student Succeeds
President Obama’s FY17 budget makes several important investments in children through $69.4 billion in discretionary funding and $139.7 billion in new mandatory funding in education. New programs include Stronger Together Grants that would provide $120 million to increase socioeconomic diversity in schools and the RESPECT: Best Job in the World program, which would provide $1 billion over five years to bring high-quality educators to underperforming schools.
Other key investments in education include a $15 million increase for the education of homeless children and youth, $128 million for Promise Neighborhoods – an increase of 75 percent from 2016 – and $10 million for full-service community schools.
Nutrition and Child Welfare
The president’s budget includes $6.35 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – enough to serve the projected 8.1 million individuals that will participate in the program each month – as well as $81.69 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which serves more than 44 million Americans each month.
Lastly, the Administration proposes a funding increase to the child welfare delivery system in an effort to prevent removals and foster care placement by allowing title IV-E agencies to claim a 50 percent federal match for evidence-based and evidence-informed pre-placement and post-placement services for candidates for foster care.
Read the complete First Focus analysis of the president’s budget request.
First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.org.