Secretary of Health and Human Services Otis R. Bowen is planning a major reorganization of his vast department that will combine at least six programs dealing with low-income families, administration and congressional sources said yesterday.
Bowen thinks that the new unit, to be called the Family Services Administration, will give more visibility and clout to agencies dealing with poor families and will produce better services and policy, the sources said.
The new unit, they said, will have equal organizational rank with the four other major components of HHS: the Social Security Administration, the Public Health Service, the Office of Human Development Services and the Health Care Financing Administration, which oversees Medicare and Medicaid.
It is expected to have about 1,025 employes and be headed by an administrator appointed by Bowen.
Initially, the Family Services Administration is to consist of six programs that in fiscal 1987 are expected to total $11.5 billion in federal outlays. The six welfare-related programs that will make up the new unit are:
*Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the government's major cash income-support program for low-income mothers, and in some states jobless fathers with dependent children. In 1985, monthly beneficiaries nationwide averaged 10.8 million, two-thirds of whom were children. AFDC, currently under the Social Security Administration, is a federal-state program in which HHS pays about 55 percent of total costs. The expected federal outlay for fiscal 1987, according to President Reagan's budget, is about $8.2 billion.
*The low-income energy assistance program, now part of Social Security, under which the government pays about $2.1 billion annually to help people of limited means meet their fuel bills.
*The Child Support Enforcement program, which has reported directly to the secretary, which helps states locate absent fathers, determine whether they have child-support obligations and then make them pay. Expected 1987 outlays are $770 million.
*The refugee assistance program, for which Reagan asked $374 million for fiscal 1987. It is now part of Social Security.
*The community services block grant, which got about $172 million in fiscal 1986 but which the administration wants to abolish. The program gives money to local organizations with certain social services functions.
*The Work Incentive Program, another program the administration wants to abolish, which received $165 million in fiscal 1986. It provides money to states for work and training programs for welfare clients and is now part of the Office of Human Development Services.
Sources said Bowen has several people under consideration to head the new unit, including Jo Anne B. Ross, currently in charge of AFDC, and Wayne Stanton, director of HHS' midwestern regional office in Chicago since 1981. Stanton was an aide to Bowen when the latter was governor of Indiana.
Rep. Harold E. Ford (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over AFDC, said he will ask Bowen to testify about the change. But Ford said that "all of the programs" to be included in the new unit are scheduled to be cut or eliminated under the president's budget and that "shifting offices around is not going to cure these anti-family" cuts.