Providing Comprehensive Educational Opportunity to Low-Income Students. Part 3: How Much Does New York City Now Spend on Children’s Services?

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Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education
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academic and social support systems
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
Education Economics
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Belfield, Clive R.
Garcia, Emma

This report sets out to estimate the total annual expenditures on children in New York City and to create a "fiscal map" to detail them. This fiscal map describes these expenditures according to a series of classifications, including age of child (early childhood, elementary, and high school); source of funding (public, tax-related, and philanthropic); level of government (city, state, and federal); and child disadvantage as measured using poverty criteria. The goal of the map, derived from analysis of budgetary data and official sources, is to depict expenditures on children in a clear and comprehensive fashion. Based on data for 2010, the authors estimate that annual fiscal spending for the average child in New York City is $15,630, which, adjusting for inflation, represents a slight decline over the period since 2005. For all 2.02 million city children, this amounts to a total of $31.5 billion, Most of that money is spent on schooling; expenditures for developmental supports for children, such as early childhood care and education and out-of-school time programs, as well as medical care and critical programs such as homeless services, amount to less than one-third of the total. Over the period, the pattern of expenditures changed significantly. The fiscal map also shows that the primary source of funding for New York City children is the city government, which provides almost half of the direct funding for programs for children. The state is the next largest source. Direct expenditures by the federal government are nearly equaled by the resource implications of rules on tax-related expenditures (such as the Earned Income Tax Credit). Notably, the map does show that public investments are disproportionately allocated toward disadvantaged children. Whereas average annual direct public spending per child is $13,340 (net of tax-related expenditures and philanthropic contributions), spending for a child who lives in a household with an income that is less than 185% of the federal poverty level is $19,280. However, the authors caution that the full amount of this spending gap should not be interpreted as a redistribution to benefit those with the greatest needs: it includes spending on rehabilitative programs and the juvenile justice system, for example, and includes very little spending that might be classed as preventive.

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