Spending on children has always been a small part of the US federal budget. As depicted in the chart above, investment in children represented only 3.2% of the federal budget in 1960 and peaked at 10.6% in 2010.
The federal budget is projected to increase by $1.5 trillion to $5.5 trillion over the next decade, but spending on children is expected to fall. By 2028, spending on children will account for only 6.9% of the national budget. For every dollar added to the federal budget over the next decade, children’s programs are expected to receive only three cents, which is considerably lower than 28 cents for debt maintenance and 67 cents for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Current public funds for children are spent primarily on programs such as the child tax and earned income tax credits, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These programs account for over 60% of federal spending on children. Other child-related expenditures include assistance with nutrition, income security, education, social services, and housing.
The projected decline in children’s spending over the next 10 years will be driven mostly by a reduction in spending on education and nutrition programs—areas that already receive less than 15% of funds.
Databyte via “Public Spending on Children in Five Charts.” Urban Institute. 18 July 2018.