Another year, another omnibus spending deal thrown together with little deliberate committee work in either chamber.
In one of the last acts of Congress before Republicans take back control of the House, both chambers came together on a $1.7-trillion dollar package for fiscal year 2023 (which began in October) that includes a few notable increases in key spending lines for youth and families. The deal avoids the potential for a political stalemate shutting down the government.
See below to access Youth Services Insider’s handy federal spending chart, which includes the past five years of appropriations for dozens of key federal programs for youth and families. The chart also includes the percentage changes from fiscal year 2022.
Following are a few things that jumped out to Youth Services Insider about details in the agreement; we will update with more if we find or hear about them.
Home Visiting Reauthorized
The late Indiana congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who died in a car accident last year, was a staunch champion for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which helps states pay for trained professionals to support new and expecting parents. A bill to reauthorize the program, bearing her name, found its way into the spending agreement.
The deal blends a little bit of what each party wanted out of a MIECHV reauthorization: more base funding, as sought by Democrats, and a matching structure to draw in more state investment, as pursued by Republicans. Starting this year, the base federal funding for home visiting will rise from $400 million to $500 million, and depending on how much states are willing to match, the total could rise to $800 million by 2027.
The last time MIECHV was up for reauthorization (2018), Republicans (who controlled both chambers at the time) pushed for making the entire account a state match over a five-year period. In the end, the program was reauthorized with no changes as part of a bigger spending deal.
In a related appropriation, Congress put $7 million into a 24-7 maternal health hotline announced by the Department of Health and Human Services last May.
New Medicaid, CHIP Rules Around Incarcerated Youth
Current law prohibits the provision of Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to inmates of a public institution, one of the caveats put into Medicaid in an attempt to prevent locked facilities from becoming an easy, cheap alternative to community solutions on mental health. Until recently, many states also disenrolled youth going into juvenile facilities from these health programs, which often created problems re-connecting them upon release; now states are required to just suspend eligibility until release so it’s easier to turn a youth’s health care back on.
This spending deal chips away at that restriction in regard to juvenile offenders. First, for youth who are detained before being sentenced by a judge, states will be able to opt to provide Medicaid or CHIP throughout that period before disposition. In actuality, this has always been possible; 15 years ago, Youth Services Insider reported on a county in New Mexico that successfully gained permission to fund health services through Medicaid in its juvenile detention facility. And the spending deal notes that part of the impetus for this change is that several states were already seeking a Medicaid waiver to accomplish this easement.
Also effective on that date, states will actually be required to provide certain Medicaid or CHIP services to eligible youth in preparation for and after their release from an institution. In the 30 days before release, any Medicaid or CHIP-eligible youth must receive screenings and diagnostic services, along with “targeted case management” and referral services in the community. The case management must continue for the 30 days following release.
All of these changes will take effect on January 1 of 2024. Click here for some more detail on Medicaid and CHIP updates for youth from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
Mixed Bag on New School, Labor Requests
In his 2023 budget proposal for the Department of Education, President Biden asked for a major hike in spending for the Full-Service Community Schools program. This supports public-private partnerships in building out a broader community function for schools, as envisioned by the late Richard Murphy and Geoffrey Canada with their work at the Rheedlen Center for Children and Families, which soon became the Harlem Children’s Zone.
Congress put in a small foothold for community schools when it rewrote the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and for years it trucked along as a small account of $10 to $30 million. Biden asked this year for $468 million.
The final appropriation doesn’t come close to that, but Full Service Community Schools still emerges as a program on the rise in the federal budget. It made the jump from $30 million to $75 million in 2021; this time around, it doubled to $150 million. The trajectory is similar to the apprenticeship program at the Department of Labor, which was at $68 million in 2017 and now stands at $285 million in this 2023 deal.
A smaller education request from the Biden team in their request was $30 million for grants to “create and implement innovative strategies for improving the education of foster children and youth.” Despite continuing signs that there is much more work to do in improving educational outcomes for youth who experience foster care, Congress passed this over.
President Biden also called for $75 million to establish a National Youth Employment Program, in addition to the regularly funded youth job training opportunities overseen by the Department of Labor. This request was not fulfilled.
Child Welfare Funding Deadline Delayed
Title IV-B, a two-part funding stream to help states with child welfare costs ranging from family preservation to reunification and post-permanency support, is overdue for reauthorization. As part of the 2023 spending deal, the deadline to do so was kicked down the road a year to October of 2023.
Children’s Interagency Coordinating Council
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has long had a coordinating council that brings together officials from other domestically focused federal agencies to discuss and occasionally act on youth justice issues. Now, thanks to a $3 million appropriation, the Department of Health and Human Services will establish a similar body, tasked first with coordinating with the National Academy of Sciences on an analysis of federal policies that affect child poverty.