KABOOM!’s Take on the Federal Budget and Its Impact on Our Federal Policy Goals

March 20, 2023

Last week President Biden unveiled his FY 24 Budget Proposal. While this will be subject to negotiations with Congress over the coming months and leaders within the House have already declared the spending plan “dead on arrival” there is a lot contained in the proposal to give KABOOM! and our partners hope for the upcoming year that will help us close the playspace inequity gap, bolster investment in civic infrastructure, and improve kids' health outcomes.

  • The President included $135 million for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program. This is a $10 million increase over the FY 23 allocation and represents a growing recognition of how important outdoor recreation is to people and communities. For KABOOM! this is a significant win and demonstrates the effectiveness of our growing advocacy efforts.

    Many of the partners we work with rely on National Park Service programs, like ORLP, to help fund their projects. The ORLP program supports a variety of different outdoor recreational capital improvements, including community playgrounds, and when considered with the recent re-introduction of the Outdoors for All Act and the American Outdoors Recreation Act, this budget increase is just one more sign of Washington’s recognition of the important function outdoor play serves in communities.

  • KABOOM! is encouraged to see programs that meet the mental health needs of children also saw an increase in the President’s Budget. The parents, caregivers, counselors, and mental health professionals helping confront this growing crisis our children are facing need all the resources they can get. For many kids, the return to school and other social activities after the pandemic lockdowns has become a source of stress and anxiety for them. Protecting their mental health is a priority advocacy for KABOOM! because play and physical activity perform a critical role in helping children deal with these challenges.

    President Biden’s budget increases funding to create more community mental health centers, expand the behavioral sciences workforce, and broaden coverage for families whose insurance does not include mental health services.

  • A third component of the budget that KABOOM! is celebrating is the increased funding for environmental justice programs. Systemic racism in housing, education, and healthcare policies not only created an inequity in play infrastructure in Black and brown communities in this country, but they also made them subject to an unhealthy proximity to industrial sites, waste management services, and illegal dumping. This situation contributed to an environment that fostered many of the disparate health outcomes Black and low-income people face today.

Playgrounds have a critical role to play in addressing these racially motivated environmental injustices. Not only do they help convert land into useful green recreational spaces, but they can also be sites for the placement of air quality monitors, solar panels, and natural shade spots that reduce heat islands; thereby helping to restore more environmentally just and equitable communities.

KABOOM! looks forward to learning more about how the Administration will put these initiatives into action and urges Congress to adopt the President’s spending proposals in these critical areas.