For the first time since it began tracking the federal budget, a new report from First Focus shows that federal spending on programs serving the country’s children has declined for three years in a row. It fell by $35 billion, or 16 percent adjusted for inflation, since 2010, when stimulus money helped boost these programs.
The organization tracks investments in nutrition, education, health, income support, housing, child abuse prevention, job training, and safety programs for children. Less than 8 percent of the budget is now going to these programs.
Sequestration is going to cut into these them even further. It is estimated that it will take a $4.2 billion chunk out of funding for children, particularly in education, early childhood programs, and housing. Republicans, however, are planning to go even further, as the House passed 22 percent more cuts above sequestration to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill, the source of most of the funding for kids.
The impact of sequestration has already hit many of the nation’s children. Kids have been kicked out of their Head Start programs and more are likely to be denied access as the budget cuts take their toll. Schools that serve children on military bases and Native American reservations are also taking a beating. Childcare support programs are being cut, which means 30,000 will lose subsidies for care.
Other budget cuts have longer-term effects. Reductions in the lead removal program are leaving children exposed to poisoning, which is is linked to lower IQs, learning disabilities, and even criminal behavior.
Meanwhile, the country was already failing many children before the latest round of budget cutting. The U.S. ranks second-to-last among 35 countries when it comes to childhood poverty. And even as the economy shows signs of recovery and unemployment declines, poverty among children has continued to increase.