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The Baby Share of the Federal Budget

We spend just 1.7 percent of the federal budget on programs that support infants and toddlers – underspending on our youngest children during the years in which they are developing a foundation that will shape the rest of their lives.

The United States is home to 11.4 million babies and toddlers, making up 3.4 percent of our nation’s population. However, in a joint analysis with  First Focus on Children , we found that we spend just 1.5 percent of the federal budget on programs that support various aspects of infant-toddler development. 

Programs that support babies and toddlers and their families play an important role in filling the gaps and reducing inequities for babies, providing access to health care, addressing environmental hazards, boosting income, food security, and housing stability, and increasing access to high-quality early learning opportunities.  

Our findings show that the federal budget fails to prioritize the needs of infants and toddlers and their families during these critical years of foundational development – and fall well short of even investing in babies and toddlers relative to their share of the overall population. They also show that many of these programs are highly vulnerable to budget cuts that Congress is considering, and make the case for policymakers to invest more, not less in our youngest children.  

Download the factsheet and full brief for more findings and our analysis.

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