First Focus on Children is proud to release the Children’s Budget Book 2021, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the share of spending allocated to kids across more than 250 government programs in the federal budget. The book tracks domestic and international spending on children including both mandatory and discretionary funding across twelve federal departments and numerous agencies and bureaus. This is the second year the book tracks international resources supporting kids, and this year newly captures pandemic aid and adds three refundable tax credits for the first time: the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Unfortunately and unacceptably, children routinely have come last and least in the federal budget, with appalling statistics to reflect that reality:\

  • The United States has the 10th highest rate of child poverty among the 38 countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
  • In 2019, more than 1.5 million U.S. students were experiencing homelessness.
  • Nearly 15 million children experienced hunger and food insecurity in 2020.
  • Up to 99% of students in lower- and middle-income countries have suffered closures of schools and learning spaces due to the pandemic.
  • Nearly 4.3 million children did not have health insurance in 2020—a 7% rise over 2019.
  • Only one‐in‐seven eligible families receive a subsidy from the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

For more than a decade, this report has documented a sharp decline in the share of federal spending for kids. But, in the wake of COVID-19, Congress responded with long-overdue investments in early childhood, child care, education, child nutrition, health care, and income support and reversed that downward spending trend — the share dedicated to children rising from a record low of 7.64% in 2020 to 11.15% in 2021 — an unprecedented increase.

Download the full fact sheet here.