Policy Resource

What's in the Budget for Babies? Analysis of Final Fiscal Year 2016 Funding Levels

Download Files Feb 16, 2016

In December, the funding process for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 drew to a close with the passage of an omnibus appropriations bill that set funding for discretionary programs. ZERO TO THREE’s analysis examines these funding levels across agencies for the programs and services that impact infants, toddlers, and their families, comparing the final amounts with the President’s proposal and FY 2015 actual levels.

This analysis uses the perspective of supporting the interrelated aspects of positive, healthy development of infants and toddlers—good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences. Today’s young children are the key to the long-term security and global competitiveness of our country. How we support their development now will determine the strength of our nation in the future.

A budget agreement to “lift the caps” on discretionary funding resulted in a modest boost in FY 2016 spending on programs important to babies and their families. The agreement, brokered between Congress and the President, altered the stringent budget levels imposed by the Budget Control Act and subsequent modifications. The additional funds allowed the Appropriations Committees to address some of the cuts they had previously imposed, as well as new pressing needs such as the implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) reauthorization. These funding boosts represent real progress for early care and learning programs.

The “lift the caps” effort by advocates was bolstered when Congress faced the hard choices the budget caps were forcing them to make, leaving appropriators on both sides of the aisle expressing a wish for more funding to allocate, especially for early learning programs. The new two-year budget agreement provided $30 billion in additional funding for domestic discretionary programs, $5 billion of which was ultimately allocated to the bill providing funding for programs in the jurisdiction of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

ZERO TO THREE examined more than 50 programs and subprograms receiving discretionary funds through the final FY 2016 appropriations bill and found that:

  • 61 percent received some amount of funding increase. The most substantial increases went to early care and learning programs, including child care, Head Start/Early Head Start, early intervention, and preschool.
  • Some broader programs that affect families with children received increases, but the amount that will affect young children cannot be determined. These programs include mental health and family support programs.
  • Only five programs we tracked saw decreases, but these decreases signal a loss of two very tiny toeholds for particularly vulnerable groups of babies: those in the child welfare system and those with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).

The Bigger Picture

While the hard-won increases in early learning programs should be celebrated, they occur in a larger context that suggests a bleak outlook for more robust funding for children and families. Areas of the budget containing programs for low-income families received a disproportionately small share of the increased funding from lifting the caps, and overall these programs fared worse than other programs in terms of increases. The share of the federal budget1 allocated to all children has remained flat at 10 percent over the last few years, and is expected to drop to 8 percent over the next 10 years.2 Discretionary funding levels for FY 2017 were set in the budget agreement, so no increases are likely next year.

Even the early learning increases, while certainly welcome and appreciated, do not significantly address the need for high-quality services that help children realize their potential by laying strong foundations for success in school and in life. Only 1 in 6 eligible children receive child care subsidies, and only 1 in 20 eligible infants and toddlers receive Early Head Start. Broader indicators of need suggest that our future workforce needs substantial support to reach its potential and keep our country strong. Almost half of all infants and toddlers live in low-income families (those whose income is less than twice the poverty level), and 1 in 4 lives in outright poverty. Research shows that poverty undermines brain development in key brain regions for school readiness and academic success. When other factors are taken into account, 3 of every five (61 percent) infants and toddlers in America experience one or more factors that place their positive development at risk. Eighteen percent experience 3 or more of those factors, which include such things as poverty, living with a single parent, low parental education, residential mobility, and unemployment. Research shows that by age 2,3 infants and toddlers in families with many of these risk factors are more likely to show gaps across all domains of development.

These alarming indicators should be a clear signal to policymakers that they should be looking for far more ambitious funding to ensure our future innovators and thinkers, workers and citizens are on the right track from the start. As the President and Congress begin work on the FY 2017 budget—and next year, as a new President takes office—securing our nation’s prosperity by laying a strong foundation with today’s babies should be at the top of the agenda.

Programs Tracked in the Baby Budget

ZERO TO THREE tracks 71 programs and subprograms in areas that include early care and learning, health and mental health, child welfare, and justice programs. A number of programs that are not aimed solely at children are included on the assumption that children do benefit from broader health or basic needs programs and that their parents’ wellbeing is also important. A subprogram is an allocation within a program’s funding, specifically targeted to young children, such as the infant-toddler quality set-aside within CCDBG. Of the programs included in the analysis, 17 have mandatory funding; that is, their funding levels are set in their authorizing legislation. These include a few entitlement programs, whose funding levels are determined by the number of people who qualify for them, such as Title IV-E Foster Care Payments or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The remaining 54 programs have discretionary funding; that is, their funding levels are set by the annual appropriations process. These are the programs most affected by austerity measures, such as the budget caps. This analysis does not include tax policies, such as the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit, that also benefit children, and account for 40 percent of total expenditures on children birth to age 18.

Details About Program Areas

GOOD HEALTH:

Health and mental health programs directed at children largely remained flat. Exceptions were Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education, which received a $30 million increase (11% over FY 2015) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which received a $53 million increase. The larger mental health programs received increases totaling $82 million, but the Mental Health Services for Children program received only $2 million of that increase and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network received $1 million. Project LAUNCH was level funded.

It’s important to note that the tiny $1 million grant focused on FASD was eliminated. While Congress has settled its attention on the impact of opioids, research shows that the long-lasting effects and prevalent use of alcohol are an ongoing problem. Alcohol is a teratogen affecting brain development in a significant group of infants, and its use frequently co-occurs with the use of other drugs.

STRONG FAMILIES:

Discretionary funding for most child welfare programs remained flat. A few programs received small increases, including a bump up in the Research and Training funds to continue the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Wellbeing. The small $11 million Abandoned Infants Assistance Program was eliminated despite Administration proposals to repurpose it to address the needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system more broadly. This small program was the only child welfare program specifically focused on very young children.

POSITIVE EARLY LEARNING EXPERIENCES:

Massive efforts by early childhood advocates have produced real results in early care and learning funding, with almost a billion dollars in new money. FY 2016 discretionary spending for early learning represents a 10 percent increase in real dollars over 2005 levels. This demonstrates significant progress, since in 2015, spending for early care and learning was about the same as in 2005 in real dollars. Funding decisions of note include:4

  • $326 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, to help states cover the cost of implementing the recent reauthorization. Because the quality set-aside in the legislation will increase from 4 percent to 7 percent this year, the appropriation does not include additional money to improve child care quality. However, the new 3 percent infant-toddler set-aside included in the statute does not take effect until 2017, so the spending bill includes $127 million for improving infant-toddler care, a $15 million increase over FY 2015.
  • $570 million increase for Head Start/Early Head Start, which includes a $125 million increase for Early Head Start expansion and the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, bringing total funding to $635 million.
  • $250 million in restored funds for the Preschool Development Grants, which had been eliminated by both Appropriations Committees.
  • Early Intervention for infants and toddlers (Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act–IDEA) received a $20 million increase.
  • Preschool Grants in Part B of IDEA received a $35 million increase.
  • Striving Readers, which funds literacy efforts for children birth through 12th grade, received a $30 million increase. States must allocate 15 percent of literacy funds to children from birth through age 5.

In addition, noting that the foundations for success begin early in life and that the achievement gap is apparent as early as 9 months of age, report language for the Department of Education calls for the Institute of Education Sciences to devote more funds to applied research on typically-developing infants and toddlers, as well as those with special needs, to fill in gaps in the existing literature and practice knowledge.

Health and Human Services Programs

Early Care and Learning Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) 5
Mandatory funds
$2,917 $6,582 $2,917 Mandatory
Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)
Discretionary funds
$2,435 $2,805 $2,761 Increased
CCDBG Infant- Toddler Targeted Funds
(non-additive)
($112) ($126) ($127) Increased
Head Start/ Early Head Start
Discretionary funds
$8,598 $10,118 $9,168 Increased
Early Head Start Expansion & Child Care Partnership Grants
(non-additive)
($500) ($650) ($635) Increased


Child Welfare Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Title IV-B, Subpart 1, Child Welfare Services
Discretionary funds
$269 $269 $269 =
Title IV-B, Promoting Safe and Stable Families
Discretionary Funds
$60 $90 $60 =
Title IV-B, Promoting Safe and Stable Families
Mandatory Funds
$345 $345 $345 Mandatory
Title IV-B, Part 2, Court Improvement Fund
Mandatory Funds
$30 $30 $30 Mandatory
Family Connection Grants6
Mandatory funds
$15 Mandatory
Title IV-B, Child Welfare Research, Training, and Demonstration
Discretionary Funds
$16 $16 $18
Title IV-E, Foster Care
Mandatory funds
$4,289 $4,772 $4,772
Title IV-E Tribal Title, Technical Assistance
Mandatory funds
$3 $3 $3 Mandatory
Title IV-E Adoption Assistance
Mandatory funds
$2,504 $2,563 $2,563 Mandatory
Adoption Opportunities
Discretionary Funds
$39 $43 $39 =
Adoption Incentives
Discretionary Funds
$38 $38 $38 =
Abandoned Infants Assistance
Discretionary Funds
$11 $11
Guardianship Assistance
Mandatory funds
$99 $123 $123 Mandatory
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Child Protective Services State Grants
Discretionary Funds
$25 $25 $25 =
CAPTA Discretionary Grants
Discretionary Funds
$29 $49 $33
CAPTA Community-Based Grants for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
Discretionary Funds
$40 $40 $40 =


Health and Mental Health Services

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Medicaid7 Mandatory funds $338k $356k $358k Mandatory
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)8
Mandatory funds
10,558 $11,900 $14,010 Mandatory
Maternal and Child Health Block Grant (MCHBG)
Discretionary funds
$637 $637 $638
Healthy Start
Discretionary funds
$102 $102 $104
Community Health Centers
Discretionary funds
$1,491 $1,491 $1,491 =
ACA Health Center Fund9
Mandatory funds
$3,600 $3,600 $3,600 Mandatory
Emergency Medical Services for Children
Discretionary funds
$20 $20 $20 =
Universal Newborn Hearing Screening
Discretionary funds
$18 $18 $18 =
Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Program
Discretionary Funds
$265 $10010 $295
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development $1,287 $1,318 $1,340
Community Mental Health Services Block Grant
Discretionary funds
$462 $462 $512
Mental Health Services for Children
Discretionary funds
$117 $117 $119
Priority Mental Health Needs (PRANS)
Discretionary funds
$367 $334 $403
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
(non-additive)
($46) ($46) ($47)
Project LAUNCH (non-additive) ($35) ($35) ($35) =
Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant
Discretionary funds
$1,741 $1,741 $1,779
Priority Substance Abuse Prevention Needs (PRANS)
Discretionary funds
$175 $194 $211
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
(non-additive)
($1) ($1)
Priority Substance Abuse Treatment Needs (PRANS)
Discretionary funds
$362 $291 $335


Family Support Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)11
Mandatory funds
$17,345 $17,347 $17,347 Mandatory
TANF State Family Assistance Grants
(non-additive)
($16,737) ($16,730) ($16,739) Mandatory
TANF Contingency Funds
Mandatory funds
($608)12 ($608) ($608) Mandatory
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)
Mandatory funds
$1,700 $1,700 $1,700 Mandatory
Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
Discretionary funds
$682 $674 $715
LIHEAP
Discretionary funds
$2,800 $3,390 $3,390
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting
Mandatory funds
$380 $50013 $400 Mandatory


Education Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Preschool Development Grants14 $250 $750 $250 =
Preschool for All15
Mandatory funds
$1,300 N/A
Striving Readers16
Discretionary funds
$160 $160 $190
Investing in Innovation Fund
Discretionary funds
$120 $300 $120 =
Part B of IDEA, Preschool Grants
Discretionary funds
$353 $403 $388
Part C of IDEA, Grants for Infants and Families
Discretionary funds
$439 $504 $459
Promise Neighborhoods
Discretionary funds
$59 $150 $73
Child Care Access Means Parents in School
Discretionary funds
$15 $15 $15 =


Nutrition Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
Discretionary funds
$6,823 $6,623 $6,350
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Mandatory funds
$81,800 $83,692 $77,848 Mandatory
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)17
Mandatory funds
$3,196 $3,200 $3,300 Mandatory


Justice Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grants
Discretionary funds
$376 $388 $476
Byrne Competitive Grants
Discretionary funds
$15 N/A
Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grants
Discretionary funds
$11 $30 $15
Court Appointed Special Advocate Program
Discretionary funds
$6 $6 $9
Defending Childhood/Children Exposed to Violence
Discretionary funds
$23 $23 $8
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention —Title II Part B Formula Grant
Discretionary funds
$50 $70 $58
Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Enforcement Assistance
Discretionary funds
$33 $33 $34
Child Abuse Training for Judicial Personnel
Discretionary funds
$1 $1 $2
Programs under Victims of Child Abuse Act
Discretionary funds
$11 $10 $20


Labor Programs

Funding Levels in Millions of Dollars

Federal Program FY 2015 Omnibus Bill FY 2016 President’s Budget FY 2016 Omnibus Bill Funding Progress
State Paid Leave Fund18
Discretionary funds
$35 N/A
Paid Leave Partnership Initiative
Mandatory funds
$2,213 N/A


References

1. D. Reich & D. Rice (2016). 2016 Appropriations Placed Low Priority on Low-Income Programs; Better Priorities Needed for 2017. Washington, DC: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

2. J. Isaacs, S. Edelstein, H. Hahn, E. Steele, & C.E. Steurle (2015). Kids’ Share 2015: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children in 2014 and Future Projections. Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute.

3. National Center for Children in Poverty. Young Child Risk Calculator. Accessed on January 27, 2016. http://nccp.org/tools/risk/

4. ZERO TO THREE analysis.

5. The infant-toddler target funds are a set-aside within the overall CCDBG appropriation. Starting in FY2017, states will be required to set aside 3% of all CCDF funds for improving infant-toddler care.

6. The Family Connection Grants, which funded services intended to enable children in foster care or at risk for entering foster care to stay connected with their families, had mandatory funding that expired in 2014. The President’s budget proposed reinstating these grants.

7. Numbers used are Appropriation Budget Authority (gross).

8. The funding levels for CHIP in the table represent outlays. The state allotments, or the budget resources allocated to states on an annual basis, are as follows: $ 17,406 million in FY 2013; $19,147 million in FY 2014; and $21,061 million in FY 2015.

9. Mandatory funding for the Community Health Centers was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and extended through 2017 in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-10), commonly known as the “Doc Fix”.

10. The President’s FY 2016 budget request proposed a new Targeted Support for the Graduate Medical Education Program, funded at $400 million, to advance key health workforce needs. While this new program would have subsumed most of the specific pediatric program, the proposal would have left $100 million for direct medical expenses for graduate medical education in pediatrics. The proposal was not enacted.

11. Total TANF funding includes State Family Assistance Grants, Family Assistance Grants and Matching Grants for Territories, Health Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood Grants, Tribal Work Programs, Contingency Fund.

12. The FY 2016 Budget included a proposal to redirect the TANF Contingency Fund to a new “Pathways to Jobs” initiative as well as program monitoring. 13. The President’s FY 2016 budget proposed expanding MIECHV by $15 billion over 10 years. P.L. 114-10 extended the authorization of MIECHV to September 30, 2017, at $400 million a year.

14. These are the original Preschool Development Grants, which have been funded in different ways since their inception in FY 2014. For FY 2016, continuation funding for the existing grants was included in the Fund for the Improvement of Education. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA), which reauthorized the Elementary-Secondary Education Act, created a program also called Preschool Development Grants, which will be funded through HHS and jointly administered with the Department of Education.

15. The President’s Preschool for All proposal would provide $75 billion over 10 years to fund preK for all 4 year-olds with family income at or below 200% of poverty. This proposal was not enacted.

16. ESSA codifies a federal literacy program similar to that funded through appropriations under Striving Readers for the past few years. It will continue to set aside 15% of funds for children from birth through age 5.

17. Although the Child Nutrition reauthorization has not been completed, the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill extended funding for programs with mandatory funding levels that expired at the end of FY 2015.

18. The President’s 2016 Budget requested $35 million for a State Paid Leave Fund to assist States in setting up paid leave programs by providing technical assistance and other support. In addition, it proposed $2.2 billion for a Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to help up to five states set up paid leave programs and assist with benefit payments for the first three years. Neither proposal was enacted.

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