In this time of taking a knife to state and federal budgets, big cuts in government funding for children are in process or on the way. In particular, many states have slashed funds for preschool and after-school programs, and Congress is considering more.
To deal with deficits, some of these kinds of cuts may be necessary. But lest they move recklessly, legislators should think carefully about which government investments have helped kids most and why. The often-overlooked history is that children are better off today than they were 30 years ago, measured by the four yardsticks that are critical to adult success—educational attainment, criminal behavior, teen births, and alcohol and drug abuse.