Yesterday First Focus released two reports, Children’s Budget 2011 and Kids’ Share 2011, at its third national Children’s Budget Summit. At the summit, leading child advocates spoke about the budget crisis and were honored for their meaningful contributions to our nation’s most vulnerable population.
Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, spoke to the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to providing children with their basic needs, focusing on affordable health care, food security, education, and increased father support. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) spoke of the national budget as a reflection of our nation’s values and proposed the Children’s Budget Act, which would measure federal spending on children as an annual percentage of total spending so as to better hold the federal government accountable for protecting vulnerable youth. David Walker, vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, presented polling data that showed that protecting children’s programs is voters’ top priority. He suggested useful messaging strategies for child advocates to better voice their agendas. Protecting Medicaid and early education programs were popular topics, though it was also mentioned that child advocates need to protect the whole child, rather than considering specific aspects of the child experience in isolation.
In Kids’ Share 2011, a report on federal budget spending on children through 2010, it is apparent that although there was an increase in spending due to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds of 9.2% in 2010, these funds have run out. The children’s share of the federal budget has already fallen to 8.4% and is projected to continue to decline. Under current law, the federal government is projected to spend more on interest payments on federal debt than on programs that benefit children within the next three years.