First Focus on Children hosted their annual Children’s Budget Summit on October 6th, 2022. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) welcomed the summit and discussed the importance of the work being done on the child welfare front and the commitment he is making in this realm, focusing particularly on youth mental health, a priority for the Senate Finance Committee, of which he is the Chair. First Focus President Bruce Lesley moderated a discussion with OMB Director Shalanda Young about the Biden Administration’s commitment to children and its top priorities in addressing child poverty and family stability.

Jessica Troe, Senior Director of Budget and Data Analytics, covered the details of the new Children’s Budget Book, highlighting an increase in the budget share of 21.8% from FY16-FY21. She noted an increase to 11.88% of the budget share compared to FY20’s 7.37% share for domestic spending in areas supporting child welfare, though this is still down compared to several pre-pandemic budgets. Specifically, child welfare saw an increase since FY17 in Education (105.1%), Environmental Health (25%), Children’s Income Support (21.2%), Justice and Child Protection (28.2%), Children’s Nutrition (36.1%), and Child Safety (21.4%). Ms. Troe also noted that many of these increases were pandemic spending bills that have not been extended or made permanent, warning that gaps may be ahead.

First Focus President Bruce Lesley discussed polling data that First Focus has collected, finding that Americans support the following: investing in children is a good investment (93%), investing in children helps improve their lives, development, and outcomes (90%), and investing in children has a large return in a health society and healthy economy (89%). Polls also concluded that over half of those polled (57%) strongly supported extending the Child Tax Credit (CTC) with only 15% strongly opposing. Finally, 78% of those polled support in making CHIP a permanent program with 66% stating that they strongly agree with the permanency.

The summit concluded with Michelle Dallafior, Senior Vice President of Budget and Tax, highlighting key advocacy opportunities to improve spending on children and families, such as increasing overall spending on child welfare and prioritizing things like the Child Tax Credit, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), childcare and preschool provisions, and poverty reduction.

By Chris Bennett, Policy Intern