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Child benefit theory is a principle that allows state funds to be given to students studying in private schools provided the allotment can be justified as benefiting the child. This rule is much criticized and is not followed in many U.S. states.
The 'child benefit theory' was first advanced in support of a Louisiana statute providing for the appropriation of public funds for the purchase of school books for nonpublic school children. In Borden v. Louisiana State Board of Education, 1929, 168 La. 1005, 123 So. 655, 663, 67 A.L.R. 1183, the Louisiana supreme court held that such appropriation was for the benefit of the children and the resulting benefit of the state.
Child benefit theory is also known as student-benefit theory.