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“This is a well-thought-out budget,” said Wade Horn, assist sec for children/families at HHS. The administration’s 2003 budget, reveals White House positions on the 1996 welfare reform law, which is set to be renewed this year in Congress. The budget maintains the core $16.5 billion TANF grant to states and reinstates two funding streams that had expired — a $319 million a year program for supplemental grants and a contingency fund worth $2 billion over five years. Child-care funding remains at $4.8 billion for the second year, as does state flexibility to use $4.7 billion in other programs for childcare. Also maintained is the $50 million a year Title V abstinence-education grant. Title V, plus other White House proposals to spend $73 million in a community-based abstinence education program and $12 million in the Adolescent Family Life Program, amounts to $135 million for abstinence education. This funding fulfills a campaign pledge President Bush made to create “parity” between funds for sex education and abstinence education, HHS officials said. (A 33% increase over this year’s funding level of $102 million [Meckler, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 1/31]. Federal funding for abstinence programs comes from the 1996 Welfare Reform Act ($50 million), the 1981 Adolescent Family Life Act ($12 million) and HHS grants ($73 million). [Meckler, AP/Nando Times, 1/31; Kaiser].)

Horn said the budget makes a “very dramatic change” regarding TANF’s $100 million illegitimacy bonus fund, created to reward states that lowered their unwed birth ratios. Now the fund will be a “research-demonstration and technical-assistance fund, focused on family formation and healthy marriage issues,” he said. “We will be funding innovative approaches to helping couples who choose marriage for themselves to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain healthy marriages,” he said, stressing that the fund “will not be used for” marriage bonuses or to coerce couples into marriage. Other pro-family proposals include $20 million for responsible fatherhood programs and revamping child-support funding rules [Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update 13Feb02;The Washington Times, 2/10/02]