Helping Women and Girls Win the Future

The Federal Budget

Having emerged from the worst recession in generations, the President has put forward a plan to rebuild our economy and win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competitors and creating the jobs and industries of tomorrow. But we cannot rebuild our economy and win the future if we pass on a mountain of debt to our children and grandchildren. We must restore fiscal responsibility, and reform our government to make it more effective, efficient, and open to the American people. The President’s 2012 Budget is a responsible approach that puts the nation on a path to live within our means so we can invest in our future – by cutting wasteful spending and making tough choices on some things we cannot afford, while keeping the investments we need to grow the economy and create jobs. It targets scarce federal resources to the areas critical to winning the future: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. And it proposes to reform how Washington does business, putting more federal funding up for competition, cutting waste, and reorganizing government so that it better serves the American people.

On March 11, 2009, the President signed an executive order creating the White House Council on Women and Girls. The purpose of the Council is to establish a coordinated Federal response to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and their families, and to ensure that all Cabinet and Cabinet-level agencies across the federal government consider how their policies and programs take into account the particular needs and concerns of women and girls, including women of color and those with disabilities.

The President’s Budget works to give women and families the tools that they need to succeed in this new century. The Budget will:

Support Expanded Resources for Family Planning Programs. The President believes that we still need to make progress on reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies. Therefore, the President’s Budget provides $327 million, an $11 million increase above 2010 enacted funding, for Title X Family Planning programs, which expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services. Family Planning services are provided through a network of more than 4,500 clinics that provide services to more than 5 million persons annually. The Budget also continues to provide funding for evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention. The Administration is committed to addressing this issue and has provided $270 million for teen pregnancy prevention and related efforts. A $110 million initiative targets funds for grants to community-based and faith-based organizations that implement the evidence-based models that have been proven to work in reducing teen pregnancy—models that provide medically accurate, age-appropriate, and complete information on contraception and sexual health. The model will also fund and rigorously evaluate programs that are promising but not yet proven. In addition, CDC will receive $22 million for teen pregnancy prevention to fund nine state- and community-based organizations and five national organizations to promote the use of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. This program supports the use of science-based and medically accurate material on teen pregnancy prevention. 

Help States Provide Paid Family Leave to Workers. Too many families must make the painful choice between the care of their families and a paycheck they desperately need.  The Family and Medical Leave Act allows workers to take job-protected unpaid time off, but millions of families can’t afford to use unpaid leave. A handful of States have enacted policies to offer paid family leave, but more States should have the chance. The Budget supports a $23 million State Paid Leave Fund within the Department of Labor that will provide competitive grants to help States that choose to launch paid-leave programs cover their start-up costs. 

Strengthen Efforts to Combat Violence Against Women. Despite progress made in the last 16 years, too many women – particularly young women– are beaten, raped, and stalked every year.  The Budget includes $777 million, an increase of $175 million over FY 2010 enacted levels, to support victims of violence, including domestic abuse and sexual assault victims.  The budget reflects our commitment to reduce sexual assault by providing $70 million for victim services, $5 million in funding to conduct pilots with law enforcement agencies to evaluate ways to reduce backlogs of unprocessed rape evidence kits, $7.5 million for law enforcement training on DNA evidence, and $7.5 million for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners Grants.  The Budget includes $3.8 million for a Sexual Assault Problem -Solving Initiative, to help bring additional focus to ways in which law enforcement and community action can help reduce sexual assault crime.  The Budget also targets funds to reduce domestic violence homicides, building on evidence-based practices to identify and intervene in high risk cases. The Budget fills gaps in local services by providing a $100 million increase from the Crime Victims Fund to provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, and other local services, $135 million in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for battered women’s shelters and services, and $4.5 million for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 

Prevent Hunger and Improve Nutrition.  At a time of continuing need, the Budget provides $7.9 billion for discretionary nutrition program support.  Funding supports 9.6 million participants in the WIC program, which is critical to the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants and young children. The Administration supports implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, strengthening the child nutrition programs and increasing children's access to healthy meals and snacks.  As the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) continues to serve an unprecedented number of participants, the Administration re-proposes to temporarily suspend the time benefit limits for certain working-age, low-income adults without dependents for an additional fiscal year.  The Budget also proposes to restore the SNAP benefit cuts that were included in Child Nutrition reauthorization. In order to combat food deserts, the Administration provides $35 million in the Office of the Secretary Agriculture and other funds in Rural Development and the Agricultural Marketing Service to support USDA’s portion of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative.  The funding will provide grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other assistance to expand retail outlets for farm products in food deserts.

Support Family Caregivers. Often, the responsibility for providing informal care to aging or disabled relatives falls to women. The Budget includes $96 million for the Administration's Caregiver Initiative, an effort to expand help to families and seniors so that caregivers can better manage their multiple responsibilities and seniors can live in the community for as long as possible.  Without creating new programs, this initiative provides new resources to support the network of agencies in local communities across the country that already provide critical help to seniors and caregivers.

Fund Quality Early Childhood Development Programs. Quality early education is an investment that pays off for years by preparing children for a lifetime of learning.  The 2012 Budget includes $350 million to establish a new, competitive Early Learning Challenge Fund, administered by the Department of Education and the Department of HHS, for States that are ready to take dramatic steps to improve the quality of their early childhood programs.  The Budget includes $8.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start to serve approximately 968,000 children and families, maintaining the historic expansion undertaken with Recovery Act funds, in addition to the $350 million invested in the Early Learning Challenge Fund.  The Budget similarly includes $6.3 billion for the Child Care and Development Fund, an additional $1.3 billion, to support 1.7 million children with child care subsidies.  At the same time, the Budget invests in improved quality: proposing principles for child care reform that focus on improving quality, protecting health and safety, and strengthening early learning; and supporting proposed regulations to strengthen Head Start by requiring low-performing programs to compete for funding.  In addition, the Budget includes $1.2 billion, an increase of $86 million over the 2010 enacted level, to expand availability for affordable, high-quality child care services for military families at over 800 child development centers both in the United States and overseas.

Extend Larger Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit and Expand Dependent Care Tax Credit. The Budget permanently extends expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that were passed in the Recovery Act and continued as part of the bipartisan Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act that the President negotiated and signed into law in December. The expanded refundability of the Child Tax Credit provides a larger credit to 11.8 million working families with 21.3 million children. The expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit is worth up to $600 for families with three or more children, benefitting 5.8 million families with 12.5 million children. The Budget also proposes a permanent expansion and reform of the Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Promote the Recruitment and Retention of Women and Other Underrepresented Groups in STEM Fields. If the United States is going to create the industries of tomorrow and the jobs that come with it, we need to continue to invest in educating the scientists and engineers who will develop these breakthroughs. In cooperation with the Department of Education, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Teacher Learning for the Future program will fund innovative efforts that design, develop, implement, and test new teacher-training programs. To bring undergraduates from groups historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, the Budget provides NSF with $20 million for an overarching, comprehensive science and technology workforce program. These programs will be developed in conjunction with a government-wide effort to improve the impact of Federal investments in math and science education by ensuring that all programs supporting K-12 and undergraduate education adhere to consistent standards of effectiveness. 

Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement. Even in tough fiscal times, the substantial investments that have been made by the Administration to strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination continue in the 2012 Budget. The Budget also proposes an increase for the Community Relations Service in the Department of Justice to fight hate crimes and provides an $18 million (5 percent) increase over the 2010 enacted level for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This investment will allow EEOC to add additional staff to reduce the agency’s backlog of private-sector discrimination charges.

Increase Health Care Services for Women Veterans. To ensure that the women who serve our country get the care they need throughout their lives, the Budget includes $270 million investment, a 12 percent increase from the 2011 medical care enacted amount, for gender-specific health care for eligible women veterans to addresses their overall health care needs at every point where veterans access care.

Expand Financial Aid for College. To boost the number of college graduates, we need to make it easier for students to afford a post-secondary education and support efforts to increase the number of students who complete their degrees. One of the most effective ways to help low-income students afford college is the Pell grant program. The Budget maintains its commitment to Pell Grants by sustaining the $5,550 maximum award, which will help over 9 million needy students in 2012. The Budget pays for this expansion with the Pell Grant Protection Act that ends the costly new “year-round Pell Grant” and eliminates the ineffective in-school interest subsidy for graduate students, among other measures. While this approach fully funds the currently anticipated needs for Pell Grants, the Administration is also committed to working with Congress to develop an approach that addresses future program costs.

Promote Affordable Homeownership and Help Families Stay in Their Homes. The Administration projects that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will insure $218 billion in mortgage borrowing in 2012, supporting new home purchases and re-financed mortgages that significantly reduce borrower payments.  FHA financing was used by 38 percent of all homebuyers, 60 percent of African American homebuyers and 61 percent of Hispanic families who purchased homes in 2009.  It also is a vital financing source for first-time homeowners; roughly 30 percent of who use FHA insured financing.  The Budget also includes $168 million for housing and homeowner counseling through HUD and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks). Over half of these funds are dedicated to foreclosure assistance. NeighborWorks’ National foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program has assisted over 1 million households since its inception in 2008.

Maintain Affordable High-Quality Primary and Preventive Care.  Health centers are a key component of the nation’s health care safety net.  These sites offer comprehensive, high quality, primary and preventative health care services to all Americans regardless of ability to pay.  Health centers will continue to be a critical element of the health system as the Nation expands insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2009, the Recovery Act provided $500 million to expand health center services to an additional 2 million patients.  The ACA continues this progress by investing a total of $2.2 billion in new resources for health center services in 2011 and 2012.  The Budget builds on this investment by providing an additional $2.1 billion.  In 2012, health centers are estimated to serve 24 million patients.

Preserve and Enhance Affordable Rental Opportunities.  The President’s Budget requests $19.2 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program to help more than two million extremely low- to low-income families with rental assistance live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice. The Budget funds all existing mainstream vouchers and provides new vouchers targeted to homeless veterans, families, and the chronically homeless.  The Administration remains committed to working with the Congress to improve the management and budgeting for the Housing Choice Voucher program, including reducing inefficiencies, and re-allocating Public Housing Authorities’ Housing Voucher reserves based on need and performance. The Budget also provides $9.4 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance to preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable units through increased funding for contracts with private owners of multifamily properties.  This critical investment will help extremely low- to low-income households to obtain or retain decent, safe and sanitary housing.  In addition, the Budget proposes $1 billion in mandatory funds to finance the development, rehabilitation, and preservation of housing that is affordable to extremely low- and very-low income families through the Housing Trust Fund in HUD.