Kids' Share: Analyzing Federal Expenditures on Children

2020 Kids' Share report cover page This series looks comprehensively at trends in federal and state spending and tax expenditures on children—the kids’ share of public spending.

Children can’t vote and they can’t lobby for public resources, but their well-being and development affect the future economic and social health of the country. Children also can’t work their way out of poverty, so the government has a special calling to protect them. Public investments are used to educate children; promote their health, safety, and well-being; ensure their basic needs are met; and help protect their families from financial hardship. These investments come in the form of direct spending on programs that serve kids and through tax benefits that offer their families financial assistance.

Determining how government spends money, and who benefits, reveals our priorities. This series seeks to inform a national conversation about how best to invest the country's resources by examining federal and state expenditures on children in the past and projected into the future. The series includes special reports and briefs, the annual Kids’ Share chartbooks, web features and fact sheets, blog posts, events, and data appendices.

Featured Content

How Much Does the Federal Government Spend on Programs Benefiting Children? (August 2020)
This fact sheet highlights selected findings from Kids’ Share 2020. It shows that tax provisions and health programs account for most federal spending on children. The child tax credit was the largest single program and Medicaid was the second-largest program in terms of spending on children in 2019.

Kids’ Share 2020: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2019 and Future Projections (July 2020)
Public spending on children aims to support their healthy development, helping them fulfill their human potential. Our 14th edition of the annual Kids’ Share report provides an updated analysis of federal expenditures on children from 1960 to 2019 and pre-pandemic projections through 2030, providing a baseline view of public expenditures and future budget priorities before COVID-19. In 2019, the federal government spent about $6,700 per child younger than 19, slightly higher than in 2018 after adjusting for inflation. As a share of the economy, federal investments in children represented 1.9 percent of GDP, similar to last year but lower than other years in the past decade.

Data Appendix to Kids' Share 2020 (July 2020)
This appendix describes the data and methodology used to estimate federal program and tax expenditures on children in Kids’ Share 2020: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2019 and Future Projections.

How Would the President’s Proposed 2021 Budget Affect Spending on Children? (May 2020)
In this Kids’ Share brief, we examine how the Trump administration’s proposed 2021 budget would affect spending on children. Children’s programs subject to annual funding decisions, including education and early care and education, would be sharply reduced. Mandatory programs and tax credits for children for the most part would be largely protected, following a pattern seen throughout the budget.

Children’s Programs Receive Smaller Increase Than Other Programs in 2020 Labor–HHS–Education Act (February 2020)
The Labor–Health and Human Services (HHS)–Education appropriations bill sets federal funding levels for important programs supporting our nation’s children. The Kids’ Share research team tracked four successive versions of the funding proposal: the president’s budget; the House bill, the Senate draft bill, and the final conference agreement signed into law in late December 2019. This analysis finds that Congress increased funding for Labor–HHS–Education programs overall, but little of the increase went to children’s programs. Levels of public investments in children are important to track because they have consequences for building the capacity of tomorrow’s workforce and economy. 

Shortchanging Future Generations: Federal Spending on Education and Other Kids’ Programs Is Getting Squeezed (September 2019)
Investing in kids’ healthy development should be a national priority. Spending on kids today has long-term implications for tomorrow’s workforce; economy; and educational, criminal justice, and health care systems. But overall spending on children represents a relatively small share of total federal spending, and that share is dwindling. To better understand how the federal government spends money on children, we look at trends in federal spending on education and overall spending on kids.

Special Reports and Briefs

How Would the President’s Proposed 2021 Budget Affect Spending on Children? (May 2020)
Public Spending on Infants and Toddlers in Six Charts (May 2019)
How Would the President’s Proposed 2019 Budget Affect Spending on Children? (July 2018)
How Would Spending on Children Be Affected by the Proposed 2018 Budget? (December 2017)
Spending on Children Ages 8 and Younger (December 2017)
Unequal Playing Field? State Differences in Spending on Children in 2013 (April 2017)
How Do Public Investments in Children Vary with Age? A Kids’ Share Analysis of Expenditures in 2008 and 2011 by Age Group (October 2012)
How Targeted Are Federal Expenditures on Children? A Kids’ Share Analysis of Expenditures by Income in 2009 (March 2012)
Federal Health Expenditures on Children on the Eve of Health Reform: A Benchmark for the Future (March 2012)
Federal Expenditures on Elementary-Age Children in 2008 (Ages 6 through 11) (April 2010)
Public Investment in Children’s Early and Elementary Years (Birth to Age 11) (April 2010)
Federal Expenditures on Pre-Kindergarteners and Kindergarteners in 2008 (Ages 3 through 5) (April 2010)
Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007 (May 2009)
Federal Expenditures on Children: 1960–1997 (April 2001)

Annual Kids’ Share Chartbooks

Kids’ Share 2020: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2019 and Future Projections (July 2020)
Kids’ Share 2019: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2018 and Future Projections (September 2019)
Kids’ Share 2018: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2017 and Future Projections (July 2018)
Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections (October 2017)
Kids’ Share 2016: Federal Expenditures on Children through 2015 and Future Projections (September 2016)
Kids’ Share 2015: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2014 (September 2015)
Kids’ Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2013 (September 2014)
Kids’ Share 2013: Federal Expenditures on Children in 2012 and Future Projections (September 2013)
Kids’ Share 2012: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2011 (July 2012)
Kids’ Share 2011: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2010 (July 2011)
Kids’ Share 2010: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2009 (July 2010)
Kids’ Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008 (December 2009)
Kids’ Share 2008: How Children Fare in the Federal Budget (June 2008)
Kids’ Share 2007 (March 2007)

Web Features and Fact Sheets

How Much Does the Federal Government Spend on Programs Benefiting Children? (August 2020)
Shortchanging Future Generations: Federal Spending on Education and Other Kids’ Programs Is Getting Squeezed (September 2019)
Public Spending on Infants and Toddlers in Six Charts (May 2019)
Public Spending on Children in Five Charts (July 2018)
What’s the Future of Federal Spending on Children? (October 2017)
Which Federal Spending and Tax Programs Provide the Most Support for Children? (October 2017)
Public Expenditures on Children through 2008 (January 2010)
Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007 Key Facts (May 2009)
Kids’ Share 2008: Key Facts (June 2008)

Blog Posts

It’s Time for America to Reconsider Its Investment in Our Children (July 2020)
The Great Recession’s Lessons on State and Local Aid’s Importance in Combating an Economic Downturn and Supporting Children (May 2020)
Draft Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill Proposes a 2 Percent Reduction in Spending on Children (October 2019)
How Will Children Fare in the Markup of the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill? (September 2019)
To Secure America’s Fiscal Future, Don’t Forget About Children (June 2019)
Surprising Tax Fact: More Than One-Third of Federal Support for Children Comes through Tax Provisions (April 2019)
What Would $5.7 Billion Fund for America’s Children? (January 2019)
Early child care and education would face steep cuts under the Trump administration’s budget proposal (August 2018)
Administration’s Budget Proposal Could be a Double-Edged Sword for Child Support (August 2018)
Children’s education and health programs face deepest cuts in Administration’s budget blueprint (February 2018)
America’s investment in young children will decline, even with proposed tax and budget changes aside (December 2017)
That’s scary: America spends as much on Halloween as it does on Head Start (October 2017)
Do state spending differences create an unequal playing field for children? (April 2017)
Is it time to make kids a higher budget priority? (September 2014)
The Kids’ Share of the Federal Budget (April 2013)

Events

Do Children Have a Seat at America’s Fiscal Table? (September 2019)
Are Kids Getting Shortchanged in the Federal Budget? (July 2018)
Is Spending on Children Part of the Public Conversation? Discussion of Kids’ Share 2016 Results (September 2016)
How Our Current Budget Priorities are Shaping Our Children's Future (September 2014)
Growing Up under a Foreboding Budget Cloud - The Forecast for Government Spending on Children (July 2012)

Data Appendices

Data Appendix to Kids' Share 2020 (July 2020)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2019 (September 2019)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2018 (July 2018)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2017: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2016 and Future Projections and Spending on Children Ages 8 and Younger (October 2017)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2016: Federal Expenditures on Children through 2015 and Future Projections (September 2016)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2014: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children through 2013 (September 2015)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2012 (July 2012)
Kids’ Share 2011: Data Appendix (August 2011)
Kids’ Share 2010: Data Appendix (August 2010)
Data Appendix to Federal Expenditures on Pre-Kindergarteners and Kindergarteners in 2008 & Federal Expenditures on Elementary-Age Children in 2008 (April 2010)
Data Appendix to Federal Expenditures on Infants and Toddlers in 2007 (June 2009)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share: An Analysis of Federal Expenditures on Children through 2008 (January 2010)
Data Appendix to Kids’ Share 2008 (July 2008)
Kids’ Share 2007: Data Appendix (March 2007)