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RALEIGH—Federal investments in children have declined nearly twice as fast as overall spending creating an inflation-adjusted loss of nearly $47 billion for initiatives that benefit children since 2010, according to a new report by the national bipartisan child advocacy organization First Focus. The report comes as North Carolina legislators negotiate a final SFY 2015 budget that could result in steep cuts to public services for children and youth.

Children’s Budget 2014 finds a mixed bag for federal investments in children. While the Murray-Ryan agreement was a positive step, overall federal appropriations for children remain 2 percent below pre-sequester levels. Since 2010, federal investments in children have decreased by 14 percent, in real terms, while overall government spending fell by only 8 percent during that time.

“Cuts to vital services that promote the healthy growth and development of children and youth are a penny wise and pound foolish,” said Laila A. Bell, director of research and data at NC Child: The Voice for North Carolina Children. “We simply cannot afford to neglect our obligation to the future.”

Children’s Budget 2014 examines more than 180 federally supported initiatives ranging from programs where children are the primary beneficiaries, like education, to those not typically recognized as investments in children, like affordable housing and Social Security.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Children account for just eight cents of every dollar spent in the federal budget;
  • The long-term decline in federal funding for children is largely attributable to the winding down of stimulus funds (ARRA) and recent cuts in discretionary spending. More than $116 billion of ARRA funds (15 percent) were targeted towards children, the majority of which were spent to combat cuts to education in state budgets;
  • Investments in Child Welfare (-12.6 percent), Early Childhood (-6.2 percent), and Education (-15.1 percent) programs have all declined since 2010, despite modest increases in funding from FY 2013 appropriations; and
  • Investments in Health (5.2 percent) and Nutrition (16.8 percent) programs have increased since 2010. New investments have funded the Children’s Health Insurance Program and improvements to the nutrition of school meals.

The North Carolina General Assembly is currently meeting to discuss a 2015 conference budget. Proposals could cut critical supports for children, including a $10 million loss in funds for services to young children with disabilities, restrictions in eligibility for child care subsidies, and a loss of funding for drivers education.

Bell notes one-third of public resources invested in children occur at the federal level and the remaining two-thirds occur at the state level, offering state lawmakers a significant opportunity to positively influence child well-being by prioritizing investments that support children as they move from birth to adulthood.

“More than a statement of shared values, our budget is a blueprint that sketches the architecture of North Carolina’s future prosperity,” said Bell. “Investments in children and youth today ensure we have a workforce that is ready to compete in a global economy, healthy enough to be productive, and invested in promoting safe communities.” 

Children’s Budget 2014 is available online at


NC Child is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing public policies that improve the lives of North Carolina children. NC Child works statewide to ensure that all children are healthy, safe, well-educated, and economically secure by engaging communities and informing and influencing decision-makers. For more information, visit


Table 1. Changes to Funding of Children’s Programs, 2010-2014


Program Examples1 FY 2014



Change from FY 20132 Percent Change


Child Welfare Payments to States for Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Child Welfare Training, Community Services Block Grant $9 0.4% -12.6%
Early Childhood Head Start, Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, Child Care and Development Block Grant $15 7.8% -6.2%
Education Title I Grants to LEAs, Education for Homeless Children and Youth $38.6 1.6% -15.1%
Education: Military Family Assistance Advocacy Program, Troops to Teachers $2.6 -2.0% -22.2%
Health Medicaid, CHIP, Community Health Centers $80.2 11.8% 5.2%
Housing Homeless Assistance Grants, Low Income Energy Assistance, National Housing Trust Fund $11.6 7.1% -6.3%
Income Support Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Disability Compensation, Supplemental Security Income $63.9 -0.8% -1.2%
Nutrition School Breakfast and Lunch, Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) $64.1 -1.8% 16.8%
Safety Juvenile Justice, Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign $1.5 69.1% 31%
Training Workforce Investment Act Youth Training Programs, Job Corps $1.8 3% 14.9%

1 For a comprehensive list of programs included in the Children’s Budget analysis visit,

2 Inflation Adjusted


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