Washington – Federal spending dedicated to children represents just 7.83 percent of the federal budget in fiscal year 2016 and total spending on children’s programs has decreased by five percent in the last two years, according to Children’s Budget 2016, the signature publication of the bipartisan children’s advocacy group First Focus.

Children in the United States face an uncertain future that largely depends on the decisions of federal legislators. Children’s Budget 2016 captures and analyzes five years of historical federal funding data and spending trends for more than 200 federal programs that impact children. The book is meant to be used as a guide for lawmakers, Congressional staff, child advocates, and individuals and organizations who are interested in effecting positive change in the future of America’s children.

“As we celebrate our 10th anniversary advocating for the best interests of children and families in federal policy, we hope that Children’s Budget 2016 serves as a reminder to lawmakers that there’s a strong and growing community of child advocates who will continue to pressure legislators to act in the best interest of this country’s future, our children,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “During a time of growing income inequality, racial inequity, and demographic transformation, it’s imperative that our elected leaders put children’s priorities first.”

Children’s Budget 2016 analyzes funding for federal programs that fall under the issue areas of child welfare, early childhood, education, health, housing, and nutrition, among others. Some key findings for funding in these areas include:

  • Poverty. With record numbers of children living in poverty, an increase in funding for safety net programs will be critical for families to get by in the years to come (p. 11)
  • Homelessness. One in 30 children, or 2.5 million, are homeless, an 8 percent increase from 2012. Although homeless assistance grants increased by 6 percent in 2016, much more funding and expanded eligibility is needed due to the increased number of eligible homeless families and children. (p. 118)
  • Child welfare. The need to increase investments in child welfare outside of the foster care system is urgent, as prevention and support services demonstrate better outcomes for the well-being of children and families involved in the child welfare system (p. 17)
  • Home visiting. Legislators have a unique opportunity to increase funding for evidence-based early childhood programs with strong bipartisan support, such as the highly successful Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) (p. 32)
  • Tax credits and child care. Indexing the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and increasing funding for affordable child care are more important than ever for working parents, who benefit greatly from the two programs and are afforded more opportunities for long-term economic success and lessens their need for safety-net programs (p. 33)
  • Education. Education took the biggest sequestration cut of any children’s investment and funding for education, and even in the President’s proposed budget, would decline by 4 percent over pre-sequestration levels, highlighting the need to lift sequestration caps to invest adequately in children’s education (p. 47)
  • CHIP. Additional action by Congress is needed to ensure that more than 8.1 million children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can keep their coverage beyond Sept. 30, 2017, when funding expires (p. 96)

In addition to its availability online at no cost at www.firstfocus.org, a Children’s Budget book is personally delivered to the office of every member of Congress upon its release. Free PDF versions of the budget book are available to the public, while printed copies are available to children’s advocacy organizations and the media nationwide at no cost upon request.

Hundreds of other insights and analyses of historical funding levels for federal programs that benefit children and families are available in Children’s Budget 2016. For more information or to request a print copy of the book, e-mail gabev@wordpressmu-1207585-4417844.cloudwaysapps.com.


First Focus is a non-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.org.