Social Services Block Grant

Why the Program is Needed

Countless unmet social services needs exist across the U.S., such as the need for emergency shelter, food, and housing.  At the same time, many states face significant budget crises and have made major cuts to their social services. The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is an indispensable source of Federal funding that helps states serve some of their most vulnerable residents, including people with I/DD.

What it Does

The SSBG provides open ended funds to enable each state to create and/or supplement social services most needed by its residents. Funds can be used flexibly for programs such as health related services, child protective services, transportation, housing, substance abuse, and home-delivered meals.  One of the SSBG’s five goals is preventing or reducing inappropriate institutional care by providing home and community-based services. In addition, people with disabilities can receive other SSBG-funded services including personal and family counseling; respite care; family support; recreation; transportation; aid to assist with independent functioning in the community; and training in mobility, communication skills, the use of special aids and appliances, and self-sufficiency skills. In 2012, 21 states reported more than $301 million in SSBG expenditures on services for people with disabilities.

Authorizing Legislation

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (42 U.S.C. 1397)

Recent Funding

Please see the table on the Funding for Federal Disability-related Programs page.

Example of how The Arc uses Social Service Block Grant Funding

The Arc of Bergen and Passaic Counties in New Jersey has used SSBG funds to help run an Independent living program. This program assists low-income people with developmental disabilities who could not otherwise be helped to find housing by the state, either because they have been placed on a waiting list, or because they are not eligible for a full array of state services. Participants receive individual supports such as locating and maintaining housing, landlord relations, job search, employer relations, financial challenges such as budgeting and bill paying, and accessing medical and mental health care.

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