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If Given the Choice, Would Seniors Invest In Kids? Likely Not, Report Finds

Early Childhood
Poverty & Family Economics
Tax Policy

Washington – Despite consistent polling confirming Americans are deeply concerned about the well-being and future of the next generation, a new report from First Focus finds that seniors are the least likely demographic group to invest in youth, particularly in states with high racial generation gaps.

“The Racial Generation Gap and the Future of Our Children,” explores these key findings:

  • The nation’s federal investment in children is declining, with little relief in sight
  • Older voters are strong advocates for programs that benefit them, but not necessarily children
  • Our nation’s youth are increasingly diverse, while seniors are largely white; creating a “cultural and racial generation gap” that potentially leads to shortchanging the wellbeing of America’s younger, more diverse population
  • States with the highest racial generation gaps underinvest in children’s education
  • States with poor outcomes for children fail to make the effort to invest in children
  • The bright spot? A growing number of minority voters and changing gender roles, with younger men increasingly attuned to the needs of kids, offer hope for kids

“It’s clear that children in this country are not faring well, and it’s up to voters and policymakers to right the ship,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus, and the author of the report. “Without action and investment, we will allow an entirely new generation of children to grow up in poverty, costing our nation billions of dollars and cutting short the dreams of millions of America’s children.”

According to a 2015 George Washington Battleground Poll, by a 69-25 percent margin, voters said they didn’t believe the next generation would be better off economically than the current generation, confirming serious concerns that not enough resources are being invested to support children’s needs.

National investment in basic supports for children – housing, nutrition, early education and child care – have declined. The share of spending discretionary spending on children has declined by 11.6 percent since 2010, a staggering reduction of $10.47 billion. Particularly troubling are cuts to education and funding to combat child abuse, down 16.6 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

“Children stand at a crossroads,” said Lesley. “As a nation, we continue to make children’s issues a secondary concern. Without across-the-board, systemic changes in the way we invest in the next generation to give kids a fighting chance to succeed, we’ll see the tide of poverty and other poor outcomes for children continue to rise and undermine our nation’s future.”

“The Racial Generation Gap and the Future of Our Children,” highlights five eye-opening demographic trends that illustrate the challenges and opportunities for our children.

Download the report.


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