WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would provide an annual accounting of all federal money spent on children.

The Children’s Budget Act aims to make children a priority in the federal budget by requiring that the President’s annual budget request includes a separate analysis of all spending on children’s programs. This accounting would collect the diverse sources of funding for children’s programs, in a unified place, communicating a clear picture of the federal funding benefiting America’s young people.

“We commend Senator Menendez for introducing this important legislation,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. “Despite increases in federal spending over the past five years, the share for children has dropped dramatically. The Children’s Budget Act is a simple, inexpensive action that will bring awareness to the federal investment in children, as well as hold our nation’s leaders accountable for ensuring that children remain a national priority.”

“Our federal budget reflects our priorities as a nation and this bill ensures that we have a clear understanding of how we invest in our children,” said Senator Menendez. “We need to prioritize our children and currently that is simply not the case. If we get a complete picture of how we spend on our children’s programs today, then we can work to ensure we are not shortchanging the vulnerable members of our society tomorrow.”

Several states and local governments already produce annual Children’s Budgets. These budgets, in cities like Philadelphia and states like Louisiana, make it clear how their governments are responding to the needs of children. Children’s Budgets have proven to be an invaluable source of information, as well as an inexpensive and efficient way to improve the lives of children.

Currently, the law that governs the requirements for the President’s annual budget request includes dozens of specific instructions, such as a recently added mandate that requires an analysis of all spending on homeland security. Requiring that an analysis of spending on children be submitted as part of the President’s larger budget request would be a simple addition to the law.

Earlier this year, First Focus released Children’s Budget 2008, a comprehensive analysis of federal spending on children over the past five years, and a publication with an intent similar to that of the Children’s Budget Act. After accounting for federal spending on kids, the report found that only one penny of every new, non-defense dollar spent by the federal government has gone to children and children’s programs.

Lesley added, “Children make up one-quarter of our population, but they are all of our future. Meeting their needs requires that we take stock in our efforts. Doing better for our children tomorrow starts with knowing how we’re doing today.”