On Tuesday, September 20, the Urban Institute was the scene for a discussion of the 10th annual report on how federal spending for children’s programs is doing in Washington DC budgeting. The Kids Share  Report and a panel discussion that accompanied the release of the report suggests that children are not doing well, at least when it comes to federal funding.  A conclusion that some child welfare advocates can testify to.

In total, $471 billion was spent on children with over 23 percent allocated through the tax code (EITC, child credit, etc.).  The remaining $364 million represents 10 percent of federal outlays total of $3.7 trillion.  Of the $364 million, child welfare totals just $9.7 billion.  That figure includes foster care ($4.6 billion), Adoption Assistance ($2.4 billion) and other social services, ($2.7) but it does not include health care, education, nutrition, child care TANF or housing.  The later are all in a separate category. The totals for foster care and adoption assistance of $7 billion in 2015 is down from $7.4 billion in 2010.

The discussion and report suggest that unless Congress changes current laws, children will receive a shrinking share of federal spending over the next decade. The Urban Institute concludes that “compared with other uses of our national income, children are slated to become an ever-declining priority. Excluding health, spending on children will decline even in absolute dollars, with the largest declines in spending on education.”

The panelists included Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow and research coordinator, American Enterprise Institute, Julia Isaacs, senior fellow and Kids’ Share coauthor, Urban Institute, Michael Mitchell, senior policy analyst, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, C. Eugene Steuerle, Institute fellow, Urban Institute (moderator), Heather Hahn, senior fellow, Urban Institute.

Medicaid spending represents the single largest part of total children’s spending at $82 billion with total health care spending at $97 billion on children. According to the report, the only two categories of spending on children lower than the social services category (child welfare) was housing at $9 billion and training at $1 billion.

As another measure, percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), children’s spending is at two percent of the GDP in 2015 and projected to decline to 1.8 percent in 2026.