| NEW YORK, July 19
NEW YORK, July 19 Federal spending on children
has fallen for the first time in three decades, at a time when
more than one in five U.S. children are already living in
poverty, according to a report released on Thu rsday.
Even as total government spending rose in 2011, outlays and
tax expenditures on children took a hit, said the sixth annual
"Kids' Share" report by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan
Washington, D.C.-based social and economic policy organization.
Another 4 percent decline in overall spending on children is
expected in 2012 as the temporary boost from stimulus funds
falls by $30 billion. Without legislative action, the amount
spent on children will remain unchanged over the next decade,
but will shrink to 8 percent of the overall budget.
The economic crisis reshaped spending, shifting funds to
social safety net programs such as food stamps and income
security for families with children and away from education, the
report said. It warned of potentially damaging consequences.
"People sometimes think that you should just look at how
much you're spending on childcare, or child welfare, or
something that has the word 'children' in it," said Julia
Isaacs, a lead researcher on the report. "But unless you look
across the broader programs, you miss what's happening to
Overall federal outlays and tax expenditures for children
fell by $5 billion, to $445 billion in 2011, for the first time
since the early 1980s.
The report classifies spending on children as programs
designated wholly for children, such as education or the
children's portion of Medicaid, the federal and state health
insurance program for low-income families; family benefits that
grow with each additional child; or programs that benefit only
families with children.
Children's share of the federal budget dropped to 10.4
percent from a three-decade high of 10.7 percent in 2010, while
total government spending rose to $3.6 trillion from $3.52
By contrast, the roughly $1.5 trillion spent on the elderly
and disabled took 41 percent of budgetary outlays. The report
projected that proportion to rise to 51 percent by 2022.
In 2011, there were 80 million children aged 18 and under,
and approximately half that many elderly, those over 65.
Education spending dropped by $5 billion in 2011, largely
due to an $8 billion fall in federal stimulus support to the
Over the next decade, the report predicted, the largest
drops in federal spending will be in education. The cuts have
left states scrambling to make up the loss of federal funds or
let certain programs languish.
Last year, 17 states lost a total of $319 million of
supplemental funding under the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) program, which supports programs like child
protective services, treatment for drug-addicted parents and
teen health clinics, according to a forthcoming report by the
bipartisan advocacy group First Focus.
For example, in Georgia, the loss of supplemental TANF funds
blew a $37.3 million hole in the state budget for fiscal year
2013. While state funds restored about $25 million, 30 teen
health centers will be closed this year, said Pat Willis,
executive director of Voices for Georgia's Children, a nonprofit
Arizona legislators backfilled $23.9 million in lost TANF
money designated for child welfare with funds set aside for the
developmentally disabled, said Karen McLaughlin, director of
budget and research at Arizona's Children's Action Alliance.
Among developed countries, the United States ranks 15th in
education spending as a percentage of gross domestic product and
32nd in public spending on family benefits in cash, services and
tax measures, according to 2007 data from the Organization for
Economic Co-operation and Development.
"It's about your nation's priorities," said Bruce Lesley,
president of First Focus, which along with the Annie E. Casey
Foundation helped fund the Urban Institute report. "You really
want to make investments that pay off in the long run and make
the country a place that continues to thrive and do better. What
this report highlights is that we are doing the exact opposite."