WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a new report has found that over the past five years, only one nickel of every new, real non-defense dollar spent by the federal government has gone to children’s programs. To raise awareness of this alarming trend, Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) today 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 include 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.

The Act mandates that the president mirror the publication released today, which analyzes the over 180 federally funded programs aimed at enhancing the well-being of our nation’s children, determining how their appropriations levels have changed over the past five years. The book, entitled Children’s Budget 2009, has exposed alarming trends for spending on children.

“The Children’s Budget Act is critical legislation that will help our government determine the priority it places on our nation’s children. We commend Congressman Davis for spearheading this important effort to increase investments in our future,” 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.”

The key findings of Children’s Budget 2009 include:

  • For the past five years, less than one nickel out of every new, real non-defense dollar spent by the federal government has gone to children and children’s programs.
  • Children’s spending makes up less than ten percent of the entire non-defense budget.
  • The overall share of federal, non-defense spending going to children’s programs has dropped by twelve percent over the past five years.
  • Real discretionary spending on children has declined by one percent since 2005, while at the same time all other non-defense discretionary spending has increased by 4 percent.

Lesley added, “The findings of Children’s Budget paint a concerning picture for our kids. Virtually every program that benefits children depends on a core federal investment that has diminished in recent years.”

The release of Children’s Budget 2009 and the introduction of the Children’s Budget Act were announced today at an event on Capitol Hill.

Several states and local governments already produce annual Children’s Budgets. These budgets, in cities like Philadelphia and states such as 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 a similar analysis of spending on children be submitted as part of the President’s larger budget request would be a simple addition to the law.