Alexandria, VA – President Bush and the 110th Congress have stated their commitment to improving the lives of America’s children. That will soon be an empty promise unless we change our federal budget priorities, according to an upcoming study funded by First Focus.

“As a nation, we talk a good game about putting children first,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “But this study shows that we’re actually shortchanging our kids rather than investing in their and our nation’s future.”

Since 1960, the number of children in the United States has risen by nearly 7 percent. Over the same time, the share of federal domestic spending focused on children has fallen 17 percent. By comparison, the share focused on the elderly has more than doubled. Further, the share of domestic spending on children is projected to decrease by 11 percent between 2005 and 2010, compared to a projected spending increase of 8 percent on the elderly.

With the president’s budget expected to be released on Monday and the congressional budget process kicking into high gear soon after, the country has the opportunity to make children more of a priority, starting with reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and investing an additional $60 billion to provide the quality health coverage America’s children need.

Highlights of a new analysis of federal expenditures on children between 1960 and 2016 were released yesterday. The full study, which will be released in early March, was funded by First Focus and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and conducted by the Urban Institute, a non-partisan economic and social policy research organization.

The study finds that because most children’s programs must be renewed and funded each year and are not necessarily indexed to growth in the economy or even inflation, they don’t grow at the same pace as other federal programs that are indexed to economic growth. The result is that children’s programs get an increasingly smaller share of the federal budget pie, even as the population of children – and their needs – continue to grow.

By 2016, spending on other federal programs and interest on debt are projected to consume all available federal resources – leaving nothing available for children.

“By underfunding initiatives to raise healthy, well-educated, economically secure children, the federal government has compromised our nation’s future,” said Lesley. “To restore that future, we need a commitment to kids that offers resources, not just rhetoric.”

Report: Kid’s Share 2007