The Case for Investing in Children Has Never Been Stronger

Too bad U.S. policy doesn't reflect that.

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Students at Nettelhorst Elementary School dig into a salad bar in the school's lunchroom on March 20th, 2006, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
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By the end of fiscal year 2018, the federal government will have spent approximately $331.2 billion (about 8 percent of total spending) on children, according to a report released Thursday by First Focus, a bipartisan group that advocates for children and families.

The report—which the organization compiles annually and which calculates total spending on children across multiple different programs, departments, and categories—finds that spending on children in fiscal year 2018 increased by 1.7 percent from the previous year, thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 earlier year. The percentage of the federal budget going to children also increased slightly (by about 1 percent) in 2018.

While the increase in federal spending in 2018 represents a victory for advocates of children, the report also highlights some concerning long-term trends. Although spending (in dollars) has increased in each of the past five fiscal years, the percentage of overall federal spending going to children actually declined by 1.7 percent between 2009 and 2018.

Put another way, the United States government is spending a lot more money these days, but little of that money is going to children. For example. . .

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