Older adult woman exchanges laugh with middle school child in classroom.


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Social Services Block Grant

The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a flexible federal block grant program that provides funds to all 50 states and DC to meet basic human needs for people of all ages. States have flexibility to use these dollars to invest in 29 different human service programs ranging from services for older adults, such as home delivered meals and adult protective services, to children’s services, such as child protection or child care, to disability services such as transportation or home chore services. Funds may also be used to provide other types of services directed toward one of the following five goals:

  • To prevent, reduce, or eliminate dependency
  • To achieve or maintain self-sufficiency
  • To prevent neglect, abuse, or exploitation of children and adults
  • To prevent or reduce inappropriate institutional care, and
  • To secure admission or referral for institutional care when other forms of care are not appropriate

SSBG is especially important to children, youth, and older adults during economic downturns because it is flexible money that states can use to fill in gaps in important services when other resources are not available.  Unfortunately, over the last 15 years Congress has cut funds to the program by over a billion dollars (from $2.8 to $1.7 billion total).  In some states this may mean cuts to home delivered meals for older adults. In others this may mean cuts to child protection services. As Congress looks for ways to reduce spending, SSBG, may be at risk of further cuts. Generations United works with the SSBG Coalition to educate members of Congress and the public about the importance of protecting funds for the program. 

Resources
The Social Services Block Grant Coalition: Provides information on the history of funds for SSBG and updates on action needed to protect and restore funding
The Office of Community Services of The Department of Health and Human Services: Provides links to annual reports about how state use SSBG services along with guidance, policies, and procedures
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