State Variation in Child Welfare Agency Use of Federal Funding Sources

Research BriefChild WelfareJun 25 2018

In State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2014, child welfare agencies in the United States spent $12.8 billion in federal funds to protect and promote the well-being of children who are at risk of, or have been victims of, maltreatment. Federal spending accounted for slightly less than half of the $29.1 billion in total child welfare agency spending in SFY 2014.

Because child welfare services are administered locally, either through state or county-administered systems, there is variation in how child welfare agencies use federal funds. This brief highlights variation among states in child welfare agency spending from federal funding sources. We present this information for both dedicated funding streams (those used only for child welfare activities) and nondedicated funding streams (those for child welfare and broader activities). We also examine child welfare agency expenditures as a percentage of available nondedicated funding streams.

The information from this brief and the accompanying Appendix can be used by policymakers, practitioners, advocates, and others to better understand child welfare agencies’ reliance on federal funding streams, and can inform discussions around how changes to funding streams can impact states.