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Report: Congress spends less and less on children

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61695 full

From education funding to programs that support children who are victims of abuse or neglect, to affordable housing subsidies, children are currently the direct and indirect beneficiaries of less than 8 percent of the federal budget, and that figure has been shrinking for years, according to an annual report released this summer, the Children’s Budget 2013.

Compiled by a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, First Focus, the report said spending on kids is down for the third year in a row.

For 2013, the federal government spent $280 billion, nearly $30 billion less than its peak on child spending in 2010. When adjusted for inflation, that would add up to $55 million in budget reductions in today's dollars.

“Three consecutive years of cuts to investments in children sends a clear message that Congress is not prioritizing our kids and their families,” said First Focus President Bruce Lesley.

First Focus said children have received a disproportionate level of the budget cuts in another way: discretionary spending. Those budget decisions made by Congress in appropriations bills have resulted in an additional drop of more than $11 billion in today's dollars — almost 13 percent.

First Focus estimates that sequestration will cut an additional $4.2 billion from programs that benefit children.

But there are a few bright spots in the report.

Spending on early childhood has been climbing, despite the overall decline on spending for children of all ages, according to the group. It dipped this year, but President Barack Obama's 2014 budget projects a big jump in early childhood spending, around 31 percent from 2013.

And nutrition programs have had significant spending jumps since 2009 — increasing by 24 percent.

But cuts to food stamps — a federal program that benefits many children — are on the table, and First Focus projects a 5 percent drop in the budget for nutrition programs next year.

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