Congress Hikes FY ’97 Youth Spending

Bill Howard
November 1, 1996

Caving in to their own reelection realities, Congress' once-militant Republican "revolutionaries" stowed their knives and approved a FY '97 budget for children and youth programs that matched or exceeded most of resident Clinton's spending proposals. Some of his initiatives, though, were spurned.

The GOP cave-in was most notable in preservation of AmeriCorps -- without another battle. Displaying a degree of pique that they had been foiled by Clinton earlier this year in killing AmeriCorps, conservatives did manage to freeze the Corporation for National Service at FY 96s $402 million level. Clinton had sought an increase to $546 million to expand AmeriCorps' enrollment by 5,000 to 25,000 volunteers.

Cities received some good news in the omnibus spending bill approved just before the 104th Congress wound up in early October. After imposing a major cut for FY '96, lawmakers restored the summer youth jobs program to its FY ‘95 level of $871 million - the same as Clinton's budget request. Year-round youth job training grants were continued at $126 million, Job Corps was boosted to $1.154 billion, an increase of $60 million that Clinton had requested.

Also hiked by $60 million to a total of $400 million was the joint Labor-Education school-to-work opportunities program.

The president's proposal for a $250 million program to create "opportunity areas" to employ out-of-school youth, however, was rejected.

Education Programs

Goals 2000 received a requested $491 million, $141 million over FY ‘96, to enable some 12,000 schools to improve their educational resource materials.

Title I Grants to inner city schools, went to $7.2 billion -- a 7 percent increase over FY '96 — to help some 7 million students in learning the basics.

Clinton was rebuffed on a $250 million request for a down payment on a new Technology Literacy Challenge Fund that would use federal matching to stimulate state, local and private investment in funds to buy computers and related equipment to help students become technologically literate.

In a political turnaround, Safe and Drug-Free Schools was raised by $90 million (see page 1).

Social Services

Generally, HHS children and youth programs were approved at or near Clinton's requested amount. Head Start was raised to his $3.981 billion figure, an increase of $350 million to enroll 40,000 more youngsters. Commented a Children's Bureau official: "Head Start already has more money than they know how to spend well."

The Child Care Development Block Grant was held to $956 million, stopping Clinton from a proposed $114 million increase to add a planned 70,000 children of low-income workers to the 750,000 already being served in day care centers.

A Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative setting up a $30 million demonstration grant program targeting locales with high teen pregnancy rates was rejected but the Adolescent Family Life program was nearly doubled (see below).


Threatened earlier with being merged out of existence by the House' GOP child protection block grant, the federal program to help prevent child abuse and neglect has bounced back with a lesser status but more money. Reauthorization legislation has dropped the program as a semi-independent "national center" and relegated it to the Office of Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) to be located in the Children's Bureau. Funding has been hiked $10 million to a total of $78 million in FY 97.

One significant change: Congress has instructed OCAN to jack up its lack-luster $14 million research and development program by adopting the "rigorous formal review process" employed by the National Institutes of Health and to coordinate projects with other federal research agencies.

Several small programs have been wrapped into a new prevention group — community-based family resource grants — funded at $33 million. State grants are budgeted at $21 million and there's $10 million from the victims of crime act.

The measure (S. 919) sponsored by Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), a former co-chairman of the now defunct House Select Committee on Children Youth and Families, eliminated the federal Interagency Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect which never functioned at a high level. Continuation of the National Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect was made optional— at the discretion of the secretary of HHS.

Family preservation and support to hold at-risk kids at home was raised $15 million to $240-million. But the Title XX social services block grant used to fund state child protective services and other programs was held to $2.5 billion.

The runaway and homeless youth program, which had been cut by $12 million, was restored to $66 million, including $43 million for basic shelter grants and $15 million for transitional independent living and $8 million for sexual abuse prevention.

Youth Health Programs

Some $1.6 billion was provided for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health block grants. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), now referring to itself as "KDA" which stands for "knowledge development and application," received a total of $383 million — a boost of some $150 million over FY '96.

Children's Mental Health Services was increased by $10 million to $70 million.

Elsewhere, Clinton obtained $198 million for Title X Family Planning, a $5 million increase.

In the final maneuvering over terms of the omnibus appropriations bill, GOP conservatives managed to boost the Adolescent Family Life (AFL) program lo $14.2 million — an 85 percent increase over FY 96's $7.7 million to promote abstinence among teenagers — and even higher than the $12.7 million it had been pegged at by Senate Health Appropriations Subcommittee chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). But with a condition.

Some $9 million in AFL funds are to be spent on "abstinence-only education" in accord with directions contained in a $50 million "abstinence-only education" program earmarked in the welfare "reform" bill signed earlier by President Clinton. The language in that measure has been castigated by family planning professionals and educators as highly objectionable.

Starting in 1998, programs are required to teach that a "mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity" and "sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."

There also is a gag rule in the newly reauthorized law that bars AFL-funded counseling programs from discussing contraceptives as an option for young people if they want to protect themselves from disease and/or pregnancy. Judith DeSarno, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, said that was wrong. "You absolutely have to do both — teach kids abstinence is the only 100 percent way to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, what I call obstinancy training in saying 'no,' and tell the sexually active ones how to protect themselves from their hormonally driven decisions."

Specter, she believes, inserted the sexual dogma in the law to curry the political support of a right wing Baptist ministers group in Pennsylvania should he run for re-election in 1998.

The appropriations bill also moves AFL from HHS' Office of Population Affairs to the Public Health Service’s, Health Resources and Services Administration while the welfare abstinence-only grants are under the Maternal and Child Health block grant. It looks like the makings of an administrative nightmare, as well.

Juvenile Justice

Though reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act is being carried over to next year, Congress upped OJJDP's program by $26 million to a total of $174.5 million. The sum includes $12 million for gang intervention, $10 million for state challenge activities and $20 million for Title V prevention programs.

Its Missing Children's Assistance program would carry on at the $5.9 million level.

In sum, the new budget lays the groundwork for more gains in children and youth programs next year -- especially should Congress be controlled by Democrats.

Howard, Bill. "Congress Hikes FY ’97 Youth Spending."Youth Today, November/December 1996, p. 20-21.

©2000 Youth Today. Reprinted with permission from Youth Today. All rights reserved.