For the purposes of this book, children are defined as persons aged 18 and under. While there are many federally-supported programs entirely dedicated to families with children, or to children themselves, there are also several in which children constitute only a portion of the beneficiaries. There are still other programs that may impact children much more incidentally. To determine the amount of money spent on children, this book draws on the work of the Urban Institute in their First Focus-commissioned soon to be released report, Kids’ Share 2012: Report on Federal Expenditures on Children Through 2011. The Kids’ Share methodology is straightforward:
There are certain exceptions. For example, some of the large entitlement programs, such as the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and the Disability Trust Fund, report how much of their program outlays go to children. In these cases, this book simply reports this amount.
For more specific and detailed methodology on how the share of funding from most programs was determined, consult the Data Appendix in Kids’ Share 2012 report. On each program's display page, the amount indicated is the total allocation from the federal budget. The “share of funding allocated to children” indicates the percent of funding that we include in our overall total calculations. For example, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is funded in total at $85.2 billion for 2012, the amount listed in the Nutrition Section. However, only 47 percent of SNAP is allocated to children, so in our total funding comparison, only $39 billion is added.
For the few instances where ChildrensBudget.org diverges substantially from Kids' Share methodology, the alternative sources and methodology are noted on the specific program page.
The majority of the budget numbers in this book for 2012 can be found in the yearly appropriation bills considered by Congress. The fiscal year 2013 data is found in the appendices to the President’s budget request and Congressional budget justifications. Many of the 2011 and 2012 mandatory spending levels are estimates and were also verified through information in those appendices.
For discretionary initiatives, or areas that receive yearly funding through Congressional appropriations such as Race to the Top and Head Start, spending levels correspond to the budget authority as granted by Congress. For mandatory initiatives, or areas that have their funding levels set through authorizing legislation such as Medicaid and SNAP, spending levels correspond to yearly outlays as shown in the appendices of the President’s budget request and Congressional budget justifications. This method ensures that the figures in this book most accurately reflect the true amount of money spent on children each year. Calculations on the total share of spending also reflect this dichotomy.
In a few cases, there are additional or different sources for budget and spending data. In these cases, the additional or different sources are noted on the specific program page.