Where Does the Money Go? Federal Spending on American Children (2016-2017)


Although the importance of the early childhood years (ages 0-8) for later-life outcomes is well established, less is known about the educational, community and social services interventions during this period that can set children on successful long-term paths. Assistance for families with young children can come in many forms, including from formal supports from federal, state and local governments and informal supports from friends and family.

Project Description

Did you know that the United States spends more money on the federal Child Care Tax Credit (which goes to parents in the top half of the income distribution) than on Head Start, the preschool program for poor children? Students are invited to join a Bass Connections project team in which they will collaborate with Professors Ananat and Gassman-Pines on a research project that will document the sometimes surprising ways that federal dollars are spent on young children in America.

Our project team will examine how much money the federal government spends on young children, by family income level. We will consider both direct program expenditures and tax expenditures.

Anticipated Outcomes

The end product will be a report that:

  • Documents all the money the federal government spends on children from birth through age 8, what it is spent on (health, education, housing, etc.) and where it goes
  • Is accessible and useful to policymakers, advocates for children and families, reporters and ordinary citizens
  • Is completed in time to inform the spending priorities of the new presidential administration as it develops policy proposals for children and families during the traditional “First 100 Days.”


Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

Team Outcomes to Date

Where Does the Money Go? Federal Spending on Young American Children (Hayley Barton, Katie Becker, Tamara Frances, Tim Rickert, Rob Rappleye, Maria Suhail)

Project website


Where Does the Money Go? Federal Spending on American Children

Faculty/Staff Team Members

Elizabeth Ananat, Sanford School of Public Policy*
Anna Gassman-Pines, Sanford School of Public Policy*

Undergraduate Team Members

Hayley Barton
Katie Becker
Amani Carson-Rose
Tamara Frances
Robert Rappleye
Tim Rickert
Maria Suhail

* denotes team leader