For interesting insights into federal spending on children since 2008, check out Children's Budget 2012, released this week by First Focus, a bipartisan advocacy organization promoting families and kids in federal policy and budgeting.
The report shows that although long-term trends since 2008 have been positive, recent investments in programs serving kids have not fared well.
"This year in particular marks the first time in recent memory that overall investments in children have actually declined," the report said. "When adjusted for inflation, overall investments in children dropped 2.4 percent. Discretionary funding has now been cut for two straight years, and with mandatory outlays leveling off and beginning to decline, the future for kids' investment does not look strong."
The report also shows that the share of federal funding spent on kids has decreased, which is "most evident" in the 2009 figures. "While funding for children increased by over $22 billion, total government spending increased by almost $600 billion," the report said. "As the increase for children was not comparable to increases in other policy areas, funding for children as a percent of all spending actually dropped to 6.8 percent, down 7 percent from 2008."
In its detailed analysis, the report also covers funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—noting that most of that money has been spent and the amount remaining for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years will be much less than that spent in fiscal years 2009-2011. A total of $11.4 billion will be spent this fiscal year, compared to $30.9 billion in fiscal 2011; and about $8.9 billion is expected to be spent in fiscal 2013.
It doesn't appear that the outlook for federal funding for kids is going to improve anytime soon: the report notes that President Barack Obama's fiscal 2013 budget proposal would increase federal spending on kids by just 1 percent.