New report from First Focus on Children tracks decline in share of federal spending on kids

A new report from First Focus on Children finds that the share of federal spending on children has slipped to pre-pandemic levels, cementing cracks in the child care system, holes in health care, faltering public schools, and the ongoing — and growing — tragedy of child poverty.

“It’s not enough for some members of Congress to hold federal funding hostage and threaten a shutdown,” said Michelle Dallafior, First Focus on Children Senior Vice President for Budget and Tax. “Lawmakers also feel the need to extract their cuts from those with the smallest voice — and the most to lose. Despite overwhelming public support for investing in children, our nation’s leaders chose to more than double child poverty last year, to increase the number of children without health insurance, and to inflict other debilitating — and completely avoidable — hardships on them. Children’s Budget 2023 tracks the systemic disinvestment in children that threatens their future and the economic, social, and political health of the U.S. and the world.”

The Children’s Budget 2023, scheduled for release tomorrow (Friday, September 22), finds that U.S. spending on children, both here and abroad, accounts for just 9.89% of the FY 2023 federal budget, a decrease of nearly 16% in real spending from the previous year, and more than 2 percentage points off its pandemic-era levels. The number also falls well shy of the record 11.97% children’s share reached at the height of the U.S. public health and economic emergency in FY 2021.

Internationally, the United States historically has spent just a sliver of its budget on children and that trend continues in Children’s Budget 2023. Children and young people internationally receive a minimal share of foreign assistance funding: Only about 9 cents of every $1 of FY 2023 foreign assistance investments benefit children.

Highlights of the embargoed report include:

  • Early Childhood: The share of federal spending on early childhood programs declined more than 16% between FY 2018 and FY 2023 making up up just 0.4% of the federal budget in FY 2023.
  • Health Care: The share of federal spending on children’s health care declined nearly 10% in FY 2023 compared to FY 2018, including a nearly 16% decrease in real funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which covers roughly 9 million children.
  • Education: At first glance, the nearly 68% uptick in the share of federal spending on Education between FY 2018 and FY 2023 seems like a bright spot. But closer examination reveals that the increase can be mostly attributed to COVID-19 emergency funding that is in the process of winding down. In FY 2023, Education funding accounts for just 1.65% of the federal budget. Real spending declined 3% from FY 2022.
  • Income Support: Income support for children declined more than 19% as a share of federal spending in FY 2023 compared to FY 2018, primarily as a result of the expiration of the expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) in January 2022.
  • Housing: The share of federal spending on housing for children and families decreased by nearly 11% from FY 2018 to FY 2023. And despite skyrocketing rents, housing assistance for families makes up just 0.3% of the federal budget in FY 2023.

To join our Children’s Budget Summit 2023, with live keynote speaker Dr. C. Kirabo Jackson, from the Council of Economic Advisers, please register at this link