Policy Resource

Do You Know Your State’s Baby Facts?

Feb 21, 2012

State Baby Facts are a series of online factsheets for every state and the District of Columbia that present infant and toddler data in the framework of good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences.

While data can serve as an incredible resource, it is often difficult to find the facts we are looking for. This is particularly true when it comes to specific data on the youngest children across the country. For those of us working to advocate for infants, toddlers, and their families, having access to a data profile about babies in our state can be a powerful tool. We at ZERO TO THREE put together State Baby Facts to do just that. State Baby Facts are a series of online factsheets for every state and the District of Columbia that present infant and toddler data in the framework of good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences. By providing a snapshot of how infants and toddlers are faring in each state, we can help inform policymakers about the programs that help improve the lives of infants, toddlers, and their families.

But that’s not all—there’s more to understand than just the data for your state. ZERO TO THREE’s Baby Facts: Observations for States tells a story about the facts, providing highlights on how infants and toddlers are faring across some states. For example, did you know that in 36 states, the cost of child care for an infant is more than one-third of the median income for a single mother? Or that the three states with the highest percentage of low-birthweight babies are neighboring states Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi?

When looking at the profile of each state’s youngest children, we see that where you are born can make a difference in your chances for a good start in life. To begin with, some states have more young children to look out for than others: Vermont and Wyoming have less than 23,000 children under the age of three, while California and Texas have well over one million. Infants and toddlers in Mississippi are more than three times as likely to be poor than those in North Dakota (34% in poverty in Mississippi compared with 9% in North Dakota). In almost every state, more than 30% of families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families have children under age three. Young children in Massachusetts, Vermont, and D.C. are the 99%—that is, the 99% who have health insurance.

Despite these differences, a common thread runs across state lines: too many babies are growing up in families under great economic stress without the resources to provide ingredients necessary for their child’s healthy development. These young families often lack critical resources—whether it’s adequate health care, ample food, housing security, or positive early learning opportunities—that play a crucial role in nurturing a young child’s development and helping them realize their potential. When essential programs that buffer young children against multiple hardships fail to reach all of those in need, not only are their individual opportunities to reach their full potential jeopardized, so is our nation’s ability to build the strong, competitive workforce it will need in the future.

Read more about: