Potential 2012 Appropriations Deal A Vague and Mixed Bag for Youth Programs

Print More

Note: This story was corrected to reflect an accurate figure for the Corporation for National and Community Service

Head Start is poised for a significant increase for fiscal year 2012, but other youth-serving programs face cuts or uncertainty in an appropriations bill to fund the nine remaining spending bills that was  introduced in the House on Wednesday.

The bill is a product of a bicameral conference created to settle the remaining 2012 appropriations before Friday, when the current continuing resolution would expire.

The legislation would fund Head Start at $7.98 billion, nearly a $400 million increase from last year’s spending deal and a $800 increase from 2010. The ascending figure comes despite the fact that in 2011, House Republicans targeted Head Start for a $1 billion cut.

At the Department of Labor, Youth Activities under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) are slated for $826 million, which is the same as it received in last year’s deal and $100 million under previous appropriations. A previously posted 2012 draft bill from the House Appropriation Committee included only $413.8 million for Youth Activities.

YouthBuild, which connects at-risk and justice-involved youth with educational assistance and construction training, would receive about $80 million if the bill makes its way to the desk of President Barack Obama. The Labor appropriations also includes $20 million for young ex-offenders, and $80.3 million for Second Chance Act programs for ex-offenders.

The bill maintains the maximum Pell Grant award at $5,550, but places notable limitations on the program. The bill limits grants per student to a maximum of six years; mandates a high school diploma or GED to qualify for the grants; and cuts the income level at which students can automatically receive the maximum award from $30,000 to $23,000.

The legislation does not appear to specify appropriations for some other major youth spending lines:

21st  Century Community Learning Centers: Typically appropriated $1.1 billion for the Department of Education to distribute to school districts for after-school programs.

AmeriCorps: The bill lowers the total appropriation for the Corporation for National and Community Service from $1.1 billion to $1.05 billion, but does not specify an amount for AmeriCorps, its signature program. AmeriCorps received $353 million in last year’s deal. The bill does specifically allocate $212.2 million goes to the National Service Trust that funds AmeriCorps education awards.

A House Appropriations draft bill for 2012 proposed to wind down the operation of CNCS, and only included $272 million.

Runaway and Homeless Youth: No specific funding is appropriated in the legislation for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs at the Department of Health and Human Services, which funds homeless youth shelters, transitional living programs and street outreach programs. There is also no set spending amount for McKinney-Vento Act programs, which are provided through the Department of Education to provide educational stability to homeless students.

A spending bill passed in November included a steep cut to federal spending on juvenile justice.

Click here to read the appropriations legislation.