Early Trump Budget Details for Youth, Family Services

The Trump administration released an overview of its 2018 budget today, and it proposes significant spending cuts for several of the federal agencies most involved in funding youth and family services. The overall figures, all in billions:

Health and Human Services
2017: $77.7
2018: $65.1

Cut: 16 percent

Labor
2017: $12.2
2018: $9.6
Cut: 20 percent

Justice
2017: $28.8
2018: $27.7
Cut: 4 percent

Education
2017: $68.2
2018: 59
Cut: 14 percent

The budget does not include much in the way of specifics when it comes to youth programs, but here are a few things that did catch Youth Services Insider‘s eye.

No More AmeriCorps

Trump would eliminate the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), and the bulk of that agency’s $788 million budget goes to the AmeriCorps program and the education trust that supplies college funds to participants.

The mission of AmeriCorps, launched during the tenure of President George H.W. Bush, is to financially help young people connect with service-learning opportunities. It is partially funded from above, through large federal grants to national nonprofits, and in part by allocations to state commissions.

Elimination of the CNCS programs would almost certainly challenge the fiscal health of many nonprofits in the country. It provides a subsidized workforce to a lot of programs serving children and families, many of which will struggle to maintain the same staff size without AmeriCorps volunteers.

Job Corps, TRIO and GEAR Up under the Microscope

Trump’s early budget leaks suggested adherence to the Heritage Foundation’s ideas, which included an elimination of pretty much all Labor Department job training programs, including Job Corps. Trump proposes just “closing Job Corps centers that that do a poor job educating and preparing students for jobs.”

No metric is mentioned to define “doing a poor job,” so there’s no way to tell how many of the 125 Job Corps centers might be shuttered.

Similar aim is taken at TRIO and GEAR Up, two Department of Education-funded programs focused on improving college access for low-income students. Trump proposes to only fund GEAR Up continuation grants until the ongoing evaluation of the program is completed; TRIO funds will go away for “areas that have limited evidence on overall effectiveness.”

The Zeroing Out of Out-of-School-Time

The primary federal investment in before- and after-school programs is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which was enacted within the Department of Education in 2001 under the No Child Left Behind Act. The Trump budget would eliminate the $1.2 billion program, which it says “lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”

Juvenile Justice…?

The early details on the Justice Department do not mention juvenile justice specifically. But there is some cause for concern. The proposal calls for a $700 million reduction “unnecessary spending on outdated programs that either have met their goal or have exceeded their usefulness.”

Now, if  you’re supportive of a federal presence on juvenile justice standards, you probably do not feel that the programs of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention are either outdated or unnecessary. And we doubt that a complete shutdown of OJJDP is part of this plan.

But the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which is the underpinning of that agency, has not been reauthorized in more than a decade. The House has long sought to zero out funding for it. And, we suppose, the fact that very few states are currently out of compliance with most JJDPA standards could lead a conservative spender to wonder if JJDPA funding is still critical.

But that is not actually the case. We have heard from more than one state observer that even with the low appropriations for JJDPA in recent years, that tie to federal standards is the only thing that keeps some judges and systems from locking up kids in adult jails or incarcerating them for status offenses.

There is also a slate of new rules on JJPDA compliance, finalized by the Obama administration, that would toughen the  federal standards. Those were set to take effect this month, but were delayed in a general freeze issued by President Trump.

“It obviously has me critically worried,” said one Capitol Hill advocate on juvenile justice issues.

The White House Office of Management and Budget did not return a request for more information about the $700 million cut.

Another proposal to keep an eye on: the $175 million in new spending to “target the worst of the worst criminal organizations and drug traffickers in order to address violent crime, gun-related deaths, and the opioid epidemic.” This is certainly worth doing, but is also likely to involve the many young people recruited, or forced into service, by gangs.

WIOA Shrinkage

At Labor, a vague decrease is promised for “job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities, and employers.” This likely means cuts to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which includes just under $1 billion in funding for youth-targeted programs.

The budget also proposes to expand federal-state apprenticeship programs, which it describes as “an evidence-based approach to preparing workers for jobs.”

No More Community Services Block Grant

The president’s cuts to the Health and Human Services budget include an elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), a broad anti-poverty allocation that states can deploy for myriad services related to alleviating poverty and aiding the poor.

President Obama, in several of his budgets, proposed significant cuts to CSBG, which generally is funded between $600 million and $700 million. But in 2017, he supported full funding of the program, noting “the substantial progress that has been made in CSBG in accountability and performance management.”

The Trump proposal describes CSBG as “duplicative of other Federal programs, such as emergency food assistance and employment services.”

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.