Policy corner: From the desk of the APA’s Public Interest Government Relations Office (PI-GRO)
By Kerry Bolger, PhD
APA, along with a coalition of more than 70 diverse groups, is working to oppose elimination of the federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). On April 18, a majority of House Ways and Means Committee members voted to eliminate the SSBG. On April 23, APA and its coalition partners sent a letter to members of Congress calling on them to reject this attempt to cut vital services at a time when states and localities face extreme budget pressures.
Congress created the SSBG in 1981 by consolidating several smaller programs to save costs. The purpose of the SSBG, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is “to enable each state to furnish social services best suited to meet the needs of the individuals residing within the state.” The SSBG received bipartisan support in Congress in past decades; nevertheless, since its inception the SSBG has lost more than three-quarters of its value through budget cuts, funding freezes and inflation.
The SSBG currently provides $1.7 billion in flexible funds to help states meet the needs of their most vulnerable individuals and families. States use SSBG funds for programs such as child care assistance, disabilities services, child abuse prevention, child protective services, adoption services, foster care, adult protective services, senior nutrition services and home-based services for older adults. APA and its coalition partners will continue to advocate for SSBG funding.