Cuts to the federal budget would particularly hurt low-income children, according a report released
last week by The Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
Federal spending is heavily targeted toward low-income children compared to state spending, the
institute said, with about 70 percent of U.S. spending and tax expenditures for children targeting low-income kids. About half of state spending on children targets low-income families.
About 45 percent of public spending on low-income children comes from the federal government.
"A diminished federal role could have serious negative consequences for millions of children, their
families, and the social and economic health of this country," Tracy Vericker of The Urban Institute said in a news release.
The report analyzed spending from 2009 for the federal government, while the state spending was for 2008, the most recent data available. A low-income child is one in a family making less than $34,000 per year for a family of three in 2009, or twice the poverty level.
Excluding tax expenditures, the federal government spent about $7,800 per capita on low-income children, versus $1,300 for higher-income children, estimates from The Urban Institute and Brookings Institution researchers said. At the state and local levels, per-capita spending was about $9,800 on low-income children and $7,200 for higher income children.
A major reason spending is more evenly distributed at the state level is spending on public education, the release said.
The release said 2009 might have been an unusual year for federal spending because more children might have qualified for programs including Medicaid.