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Living in a State of Babies
By Kim Keating, Senior Policy Research Analyst, ZERO TO THREE Policy Center
Since I started at ZERO TO THREE in early 2018, I have been fortunate to dedicate my time to the development of the State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 with our partners at Child Trends. As we will reveal on February 26, the State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 is unique. While many resources of this nature have been developed in the past, none have focused in a holistic way on the 0 to 3 age range. And, there is surprisingly little data focused solely on the youngest children and therefore a gap in understanding how children are faring before they enter the preschool years.
Our challenge was clear: to identify data that are comparable, readily available, and collected on a regular basis about infants, toddlers, and their families; and then to report the data in a way that makes it actionable in the context of the policies and programs that shape the lives of babies and their families.
As we uncovered this data, I was surprised to see the clear differences between states and to really focus on the fact that where you’re born really can make a difference in your chance for a strong start in life. Finding that states differed so greatly also confirmed for us that we had chosen the most meaningful data points to include in the report.
We’re also at a time when the demographics of our nation’s babies and society overall are changing. For me, as a woman of color, I was unexpectedly overwhelmed seeing all of the data related to inequities in one place across the three areas associated with babies’ well-being: Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences. Seeing the data side by side was disturbing, but also incredibly motivating. It reinforced my excitement about our plans for moving to the next level with the data, which includes deeper analysis and discussion of disparities.
The Yearbook now provides us with the opportunity to delve deeper into the stories behind the data; and that’s where the fun lies for me. I’m excited to go to the next level with this project and share stories that will not only highlight babies’ and families’ experiences, but also how legislators and program administers use the data, to help all of us better understand what works and for whom.
Dozens within ZERO TO THREE and Child Trends have helped make the Yearbook and all accompanying resources a reality. Beyond the researchers, a tremendous amount of work has been done by everyone within the Policy Center, and so many on our communications team.
All of us who have been hard at work making this Yearbook come to life are looking forward to sharing our new arrival with the world on February 26. While we are targeting policymakers and advocates to use the Yearbook to improve the lives of babies and families across the country, my hope is that they and other readers will see it as a source of information and learn from one another. Ultimately, we hope the State of Babies Yearbook: 2019—and all subsequent Yearbooks—is a resource that will be used to generate collaboration and the sharing of ideas within and across states – so we can all make giant steps toward ensuring all of America’s babies have every opportunity to thrive.
Be the first to have the State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 delivered to your inbox on February 26 by signing up here.