Author: Karen E. Lynch, Specialist in Social Policy
The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a flexible source of funds that states use to support a wide variety of social services activities. States have broad discretion over the use of these funds. In FY2009, the most recent year for which expenditure data are available, the largest expenditures for services under the SSBG were for child care, foster care, and special services for the disabled. Since FY2002, annual appropriations laws have funded the SSBG at its authorized level of $1.700 billion. However, in FY2013 and FY2014, amounts appropriated to the SSBG have been subject to sequestration, a spending reduction process under which budgetary resources are canceled to enforce budget policy goals. As a result, the FY2014 operating level for the SSBG has been reduced to $1.578 billion, post-sequester. This is roughly 7.2% less than the SSBG’s presequester FY2014 funding level of $1.700 billion and roughly 2.2% less than the SSBG’s postsequester FY2013 funding level of $1.613 billion. Note that in addition to annual appropriations, the SSBG occasionally receives supplemental appropriations to assist states and territories in responding to natural disasters, including in FY2013, when the SSBG received $474.5 million (post-sequester) in supplemental funds to support states affected by Hurricane Sandy. (These funds were in addition to the $1.613 billion, post-sequester, appropriated in the FY2013 annual appropriations law.) Annual appropriations laws since FY2001 have included a provision allowing states to transfer up to 10% of their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grants to the SSBG.