Only one penny of every new, real, nondefense dollar spent by the federal government over the past five years goes to children. So saysChildren’s Budget 2008, a recent report from First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. In an analysis of how appropriations levels have changed for more than 180 federally funded programs that are geared toward children, First Focus finds that just 1 percent of all new spending since Fiscal Year 2004 is helping children.
“We embarked on this project to identify the standing of our children in the federal budget and were shocked by the results,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus. “Despite increases in federal spending over the past five years, the share for children has dropped dramatically. Virtually every program that benefits kids depends on a core federal investment that has diminished in recent years.”
According to the report, overall spending on children increased by about 1.4 percent over the past five years, but was easily outpaced by total federal nondefense spending, which grew at a rate nearly ten times faster. Discretionary programs that benefit children fared even worse, declining by 6.7 percent compared to a 5.9 percent increase for total federal domestic spending. Consequently, federal discretionary spending on children declined from 16.8 percent of all nondefense discretionary funding in 2004 to 14.8 percent in 2008.
Spending on children’s education, child welfare, and youth training were affected even more, declining by 9.9 percent, 11.5 percent, and 14.9 percent, respectively, in real dollars since 2004.
The complete report is available at http://www.firstfocus.net/pages/3391/.