The above link takes you to a map that allows you to download the National Baby Facts, which report about the status of infants, toddlers and families in the U.S. for 2013. Viewers can hover their mouse pointer over a state on the map or select a state from the drop down list to download the Baby Facts for that state. The 2013 factsheets provide information regarding data about infant and toddler good health, strong families and positive early learning experiences to early childhood professionals, families and policymakers.
In my poking around the map, I found that my own state of Virginia ranks 12th among all states for child well-being. 8% percent of infants and toddlers in Virginia live in families with parents who are unemployed (U.S. is 13%). 29% of infants and toddlers live with a single parent (U.S. is 35%). 55% have at least one risk factor known to increase the chance of poor health and developmental outcomes (U.S. is 62%). Finally, I found that 36% of children under the age of 3 in Virginia live in low-income families (with an income less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)) and 18% live in families in poverty (with income less than 100% of the FPL). (In the U.S., 48% live in low-income families, including 25% that live in families in poverty).
Although I didn’t have the time to search for the 11 states (or the District of Columbia) which outperformed Virginia (with its paltry numbers), I shudder to think what the statistics of the other 39 states (or the District of Columbia) which performed worse than Virginia with so many children living in poverty or low-income families. According to the factsheets:
The science of early childhood development tells us that, during the first three years of life, the brain undergoes dramatic development as the child acquires the ability to think, speak, learn, and reason. A baby’s early experiences shape the brain’s architecture into a strong –or fragile–foundation for learning, health, and success in the workplace.
Adverse early experiences, such as poverty, can weaken babies’ brain development and follow them their entire lives. A state’s ability to build a strong, competitive economy in an increasingly global marketplace is jeopardized when the future of so many young children is compromised.
All babies need good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences to foster healthy brain development and realize their full potential.
Knowing this, we as a nation should check out our state’s or neighboring states’ status of infants, toddlers and families and work for change. On a grand scale, our economy and participation in the global marketplace depend on it. On a small scale, infants and toddlers depend on it in order to meet their full potential as students, future citizens and taxpayers of the U.S., and human beings.