Block Grants – What are they?



Block Grants

The federal government is the ultimate source for a lot of money being used to take care of localized instances of national problems. The federal government often uses a type of funding called the block grant to handle these issues at a local level but using federal money. If you are looking for a source of funds and find yourself asking what is a block grant and how can it help your organization or school, then this guide will help answer those questions with examples of block grants and additional details on how they work.

When the federal government sets aside a certain sum of money and sends it to a state for a generic problem or cause, this money is known as a block grant. Frequently, states will take their block grant from the federal government and redistribute it to a single organization or variety of organizations to work even more specifically on the problem using their knowledge and expertise. Since the money is free for the states to use in handling that purpose, block grants favor local control of resources, and can support a wide range of methods.

Block Grants – What Are They?

A non-specificity of purpose is a great advantage of block grants over other types of funding because it allows for people getting the money to come up with unique and creative solutions to a problem. The end recipient is assumed to have the most knowledge of what the money can do, how best it should be used, and where it will be most effective. This places a great deal of responsibility on the person to use the money well, but it is also liberating because there are not as many restrictions which can hamper the research.

Some examples of block grants highlight how this process works. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a block grant which replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children entitlement program in 1996. The federal government uses the TANF block grant to send certain sums of money to the states to care for families living below the poverty line, making it a problem solved at the state level not the federal level. This allows for each state to design its own welfare programs; it incorporates local trends, needs, and resources into a customized solution suited to its population.

The Childcare And Development Block Grant

The Childcare and Development Block Grant is another example of a block grant. This one works to encourage states to follow a desired goal of the federal government – Early Childhood Education. In it, states receive a certain amount of money set by the federal budget and they are to use that money to create and fund pre-school opportunities for children. The federal government believes in the power of early childhood education to raise the success rates of children in regular K-12 education and beyond, so it has an incentive to see that states create strong pre-school programs, even if it has no direct control over state education systems.

These examples of block grants are meant to answer the question of what is a block grant. They are a set amount of money delivered to states by the federal government for the purpose of solving a problem or meeting a national goal. Since states have the most local knowledge of trends and resources, they deliver better results.

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