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Contact: First Focus
Phone: 202-657-0670

Federal Investments in Children Down Three Years in a Row

Ed Walz
(202) 657-0664 (office)

Washington – First Focus released today a report finding that, for the first time since the bipartisan children’s advocacy organization began its budget analyses in 2008, total spending on children has declined for three consecutive years. Children’s Budget 2013 finds that less than 8 percent of the federal budget is invested in children.

“Three consecutive years of cuts to investments in children sends a clear message that Congress is not prioritizing our kids and their families,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.

Children’s Budget 2013 is a detailed analysis of the more than 180 federal investments in children. They range from investments that benefit children every day like education, to those that address acute problems such as child abuse and neglect. The analysis also includes initiatives not traditionally recognized as investments in children, like federal affordable housing and Social Security. The report was released at a Capitol Hill event today, featuring remarks by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and former House Member Michael Castle, a Republican who represented Delaware from 1993 to 2011.

“Investments in our children are among the smartest our country can make, yet as this report shows, these investments are being cut year after year and children are paying far too high a price. We cannot and should not solve our debt and deficit problems on the backs of our children, and I am going to keep working to replace sequestration and invest in the programs that matter most. If we continue to cut investments in the next generation of scientists, teachers, inventors, and leaders, then not only are we hurting them and their families—but we are hurting our country’s potential for long-term growth and prosperity,” said Senator Murray.

Key findings from Children’s Budget 2013 include:

  • Since a peak in 2010, total spending on children has dropped by nearly $55 billion, or 16 percent after adjusting for inflation.
  • Since a peak in 2010, discretionary spending (the budget decisions made by Congress through annual appropriations bills) has been cut by more than $11 billion, a drop of almost 13 percent after adjusting for inflation.
  • The share of the federal budget invested in children is down 8 percent from 2010. Despite a drop in overall federal spending to combat the deficit, children have borne a disproportionate share of the cuts.

“With child poverty, child hunger, and other indicators at alarming levels, this is a critical moment for kids. America can’t afford to overlook children as we make the budget and policy decisions that will shape their lives. The Senate is doing it right – first delivering a budget that puts kids on the agenda, and now considering a Labor-HHS appropriations bill that makes real investments in children,” said former Congressman Castle.

The report also estimates that federal budget “sequestration” will cut a total of $4.2 billion out of funding for children in 2013.

This analysis comes at a critical moment as Congress considers competing federal budget proposals with very different consequences for children. The House 2014 budget maintains sequestration cuts already in place and proposes more cuts to investments in children. By comparison, the Senate budget proposal protects critical investments in children, including health care, nutrition, education and childcare, and anti-poverty tax credits.

“The budget choices Congress makes right now on health care, childhood hunger, education, child poverty, and other critical issues will have lifelong consequences for children,” said Lesley.

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