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Contact: Michele Kayal
Phone: 703-919-8778

2019 Children’s Budget shows spending on debt outstrips spending on kids for first time

Federal Budget

CONTACT: Michele Kayal,, 703-919-8778.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 — The 2019 Children’s Budget book, released today by the bipartisan advocacy group First Focus on Children, reports that the United States — for the first time ever — spent a greater share of the federal budget servicing the national debt than on the children who will inherit it.

The share of federal spending on children has declined nearly 10 percent since 2015, according to the analysis, and hit an all-time low of just 7.2 percent in FY 2019. When adjusted for inflation, the U.S. actually cut spending on children by almost 1 percent last year. President Trump has proposed dropping that share to just 6.4 percent, partly by eliminating more than 40 programs that support children and families. The 2019 Children’s Budget book, which marks the 11th annual edition of the report, can be found at this link.

“Treating our children as an afterthought has resulted in one of the highest child poverty rates in the developed world,” said First Focus on Children President Bruce Lesley. “Infant mortality outstrips nearly every one of our peer nations and the figures keep rising. More than 11 million children live in homes that face food insecurity. And just today, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of kids without health insurance climbed to 5.5 percent, reversing two decades of progress. Neglecting our children this way is not only shameful, it’s economically foolish.”

First Focus on Children released the budget report at its 2019 Children’s Budget Summit, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“America is in the midst of two dramatic demographic shifts: rising diversity, with the highest levels of diversity among our youngest, and rapid aging as the baby boomers head into retirement,” said keynote speaker Dr. Manuel Pastor, Distinguished Professor of sociology at the University of Southern California and author of Bridging the Racial Generation Gap is Key to America’s Economic Future. “Studies show that America’s seniors are less likely to support spending on youth when they are from different racial groups. Our leaders must take immediate steps to bridge this racial generation gap and ensure that all youth, including low-income children of color and English language learners, can access the education and supports they need to succeed. America’s economic security and prosperity depends on the ability of our young people to participate as workers, leaders and innovators.”

The 2019 Children’s Budget book arrived amid more bad news for children:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported today that the number of uninsured children rose to 4.3 million in 2018, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Census figures also showed that more than 16 million U.S. children remain in poverty, a result of anti-poverty measures that are effective, but are severly underfunded and don’t always reach those at the bottom. First Focus on Children leads the U.S. Child Poverty Action Group, which renewed calls for national targets to cut child poverty in half within a decade.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Sept. 4 that 15 percent of U.S. children lived in food-insecure households in 2018. Roughly 540,000 children missed meals or went hungry because of a lack of food. The Trump Administration is currently pursuing policies to restrict access to food aid for low-income children.