Who Won Federal Earmarks in 2022

Winners from Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice and Youth Homelessness

Earmarking, the practice of carving out chunks of federal spending for recipients designated by members of Congress, is back after a decade hiatus. And as was the case before they went away, there are plenty of youth- and family-related projects slated for a direct and unfettered grant from the government. 

Sometimes referred to as “pork,” earmarks enable members to request that a small amount of a larger block of money goes to a specific group. Let’s say there’s a $50 million block of federal money for local sports programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Without earmarks, there would be a national competition where all eligible youth sports programs applied, and the department would use peer reviewers and conduct an assessment of proposals. 

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With earmarks, maybe a lawmaker from California wants a local nonprofit that runs a basketball program to get some money. So she requests an earmark on their behalf, and if she’s successful, they get the money. 

In the heyday of earmarks, there were hundreds of millions of dollars funneled to youth and family projects this way, the height of it coming in 2005 when there were about 1,400 earmarks in this area. The process was halted in 2011 because both former president Obama and Tea Party Republicans agreed on it being a bad way to distribute federal discretionary dollars.

Youth Services Insider pored over the 2022 recipients — special thanks to Bipartisan Policy Center for the handy database of all earmarks, which we used to cull a more specific slate of stuff relevant to our readers — and have created a spreadsheet that breaks down the projects most related to child welfare, youth justice and youth homelessness. It is separated out by the agencies where the money is coming from, and alphabetized by state. 

CLICK HERE to access our earmark breakdown. In addition, here is a topline breakdown of earmark spending along with a few projects from each agency that jumped out as interesting to Youth Services Insider. 

Department of Education

Number of Earmarks Identified: 126

Total Amount: $69.6 million

Notable earmarks:

  • Partners in Development Foundation, Hawaii, $2 million for education and workforce development for justice-involved youth.
  • Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest, Minnesota, $2 million for apprenticeship pathways for middle and high school students.
  • University of Utah, $1 million to pilot a college access and degree completion initiative for young adults exiting the foster care system.
  • High Desert Education Service District, Oregon, $900,000 for expansion of a childhood trauma program.
  • Queens Community House in New York City, $225,000 for family support counselors. 

Department of Health and Human Services

Number of Earmarks Identified: 238

Total Amount: $176.2 million

Notable earmarks:

  • Marshall University, West Virginia, $1 million for a center on foster care studies.
  • Parents Anonymous,California, $1 million for mental health services for Asian, Latinx and Black/African American families.
  • Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, & Families, $750,000 for foster family recruitment and retention.
  • Youth Rising Oregon, $750,000 for substance abuse treatment for youth parents.
  • LOVE Program, California, $380,000 to provide mental health and substance use disorder treatment services and diversion programs for juveniles in the criminal justice system.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Number of Earmarks Identified: 192

Total Amount: $279.8 million

Notable earmarks:

  • Mat-Su Youth Housing, Alaska, $23 million to construct a commercial building for job training of homeless youth.
  • L.A. Family Housing, $3 million for Project Home Key. 
  • ARISE, North Carolina, $2.1 million for housing for young adults transitioning out of foster care.
  • The Center for Family Justice, Connecticut, $865,000 in general support. 
  • Tohono O’odham Nation, Arizona, $750,000 for the Permanent Children’s Home.

Department of Justice

Number of Earmarks Identified: 53

Total Amount: $35 million

Notable earmarks:

  • Safelight Child Advocacy Center, $1 million for general support.
  • Ceasefire Detroit, $715,000 for the Violence Reduction Program.
  • Heartland Alliance, $500,000 for the Evidence-Based Violence Reduction Initiative.
  • City of Denver Youth Crisis Response Team Initiative, $384,000 for general support.
  • ​​South King County, Washington, $300,000 for restorative justice programs. 

Department of Labor

Number of Earmarks Identified: 49

Total Amount: $38.4 million 

Notable earmarks:

  • Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, $5 million for a work-based learning program for youth and the Ready.Set.Work initiative.
  • California Workforce Association Foundation, $1 million for a youth apprenticeship initiative.
  • The HOPE Program, Bronx, New York, $800,000 for a job training program for green jobs to support justice-impacted individuals.
  • Parents and Children Together, Hawaii, $270,000 for the Work with a Future program.
  • iFoster, California, $150,000 for a workforce development program for transition-age youth in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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