Ed Walz
(202) 657-0685 (office)

For Immediate Release: June 27, 2012

Washington – First Focus today released a report finding that, for the first time since the children’s advocacy organization began its budget analyses in 2008, “discretionary” spending (the budget decisions made by Congress through annual appropriations bills) on children has declined for two consecutive years. Children’s Budget 2012 observes that less than 8 percent of the federal budget is invested in children.

“Budgets are about priorities, and two years of consecutive cuts to our investments in children says a lot about Congress’ priorities,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.

Children’s Budget 2012 is a detailed analysis of more than 180 federal investments in children. They range from investments children benefit from every day like education, to acute problems such as child abuse and neglect prevention. The analysis also includes initiatives not traditionally recognized as investments in children, like federal affordable housing initiatives and Social Security. Discretionary spending on children has declined by about $2 billion since 2010.

Overall investments in children also declined in 2012, relative to 2011, and the share of federal spending going to kids fell six percent as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, often called “economic stimulus”) funds run out. Another contributing factor was a decline in mandatory outlays for Medicaid and SNAP. In recent years, due to the economic downturn and increased need, these programs responded with increased outlays. More than two dozen children’s programs receive ARRA funding, including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

To keep children’s investments from slipping below pre-ARRA levels, Congress will need to increase these investments. President Obama’s federal fiscal year 2013 budget proposal would increase spending for children by three percent, but the budget plan passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May would cut billions of dollars from investments in children.

“Recent spending proposals have shown that policymakers are willing to sacrifice the needs of children in order to protect the interests of others. We can’t keep making the same bad choices for kids and expect better outcomes,” said Lesley.

For a full copy of Children’s Budget 2012 visit the First Focus website, and for an interactive version that allows users to compare specific programmatic investments, visit

First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit