Early Childhood: Stark inequality starts early -- with babies, toddlers, report says

View this email in your browser
Early Childhood
A newsletter from The Hechinger Report
 Share Share
 Tweet Tweet
 Forward Forward

Jackie Mader

By Jackie Mader

America’s very youngest citizens are hardly immune from the inequities exposed —and, in some cases, worsened — by the pandemic. And for infants and toddlers, the consequences could be particularly long-lasting given how crucial this period of development is, according to a new report released by ZERO TO THREE, an early childhood nonprofit. Members of this age group have always faced drastically different opportunities to grow and flourish based on where they live and their demographics, but these disparities became more pronounced during the pandemic, according to The State of Babies Yearbook 2021, which looked at dozens of data sets spanning health, education and family welfare. Among the areas where gaps have widened: regular pediatrician visits, maternal mental health and food insecurity.
 
“The pandemic has been painful for all of us, but it didn’t need to be so devastating for babies, toddlers, and their families,” said Myra Jones-Taylor, chief policy officer of ZERO TO THREE in a statement. “Because our nation has ignored the needs of young children for decades, COVID-19 was free to wreak havoc on the conditions that contribute to our babies’ development and our families’ stability.” This was even more pronounced for Black and Brown babies, and those from low-income families, she added.
 
As of 2019, when much of the report’s data were collected, more than half of babies in the country were children of color. While 18.6 percent of infants and toddlers nationally lived in poverty, that rate jumped to nearly 40 percent for American Indian/Alaska Native babies and more than 34 percent of Black infants and toddlers. American Indian/Alaska Native and Black babies and toddlers were also more likely to live in a family with no working parents. The report also included data from the Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development Early Childhood Household Survey, or RAPID-EC, which looks at the state of families with young children during the pandemic.
 
Brain development is most rapid in the first five years of life, meaning the well-being of infants and toddlers is particularly important. Children who are exposed to toxic stress and traumatic experiences — including those that can occur from living in poverty, having a parent with mental health challenges and experiencing hunger — can suffer from life-long detrimental effects. These experiences can change the brain’s architecture and have been found to correspond with health problems down the road, including depression, heart disease and diabetes.
 
Here are some of the main findings of the report:

  • Pre-pandemic data show nationwide, 6.2 percent of women received late or no prenatal care, ranging from less than 2 percent in Rhode Island to more than 11 percent in New Mexico. Black and Hispanic women are more likely to receive late or no prenatal care compared to white women.
  • Between 2018 and 2019, the United States ranked 33rd for relative child poverty out of 37 economically advanced countries.
  • Prior to the pandemic, 9 percent of infants and toddlers did not have a well-child visit with a pediatrician in the previous year. These rates varied greatly by state, with only 85.4 percent of babies in New Mexico attending preventative well child visits, compared to almost 97 percent in Oregon. That number jumped significantly during the pandemic, with nearly 38 percent of families missing a visit, according to data from RAPID-EC.
  • Among low-income mothers, slightly less than 25 percent reported less than optimal mental health prior to the pandemic, compared with 17.6 percent of mothers who are not low-income. During the pandemic, RAPID-EC found caregiver emotional distress increased early on and has remained high for low-income families, Black and Latinx families, single parent households and families with children who have disabilities, the report found.
  • Almost 14 percent of families with babies had high food insecurity before the pandemic, a rate that had decreased from the previous year. During the pandemic, however, almost 27 percent of families have reported high food insecurity according to RAPID-EC data. This percentage is even higher in Black and Latinx families.

The report’s authors found some positive notes for infants and toddlers: since last year’s State of Babies yearbook, two states implemented Medicaid expansion, which improves parents’ access to care and can lead to lower rates of infant mortality. The number of states with Medicaid plans that allow, recommend or require maternal depression screenings during well-child visits also increased from previous years. Six new states now include maternal screenings in their Medicaid plans, which can be critical to identifying and addressing maternal depression early.
 
On a webinar to discuss the report’s findings, Patricia Cole, senior director of federal policy at ZERO TO THREE, said more federal attention is needed to reduce disparities and start infants and toddlers off on a stronger foot; those include paid family leave, expanding early Head Start, and greater attention to mental health from the youngest ages. “We really feel like now is the time for a big, bold baby agenda,” Cole said. “States need to step up and do their part and there needs to be a federal priority placed on our young babies.”
 
You can read the full report, including data for individual states and state rankings based on data, here.

More on infants and toddlers during the pandemic:

This article by Victoria Uwumarogie for Essence looks at how parents can raise “well-adjusted” children born during the pandemic.

This piece by Kara Newhouse for MindShift looks at how the pandemic has impacted babies and toddlers and how adults can mitigate that impact.

This article by Terry Ward for CNN looks at the concerns of parents of infants and toddlers during the pandemic and what to do about those concerns.  

 Research quick take: 
  • Older children in America are also facing chronic issues that are contributing to poor outcomes, according to a recent report from the Children’s Defense Fund. The State of America’s Children 2021 found children remain the poorest age group in America, with nearly 1 in 7 living in a low-income family in 2019. More than 1 in 7 children were food insecure and more than 1 in 3 children live in households burdened by housing costs. The report found concerning data among older children: the number of children aging out of the foster care system without a permanent family, for example, jumped by more than 14 percent in 2019.
  • The coronavirus pandemic reversed progress on state-funded pre-K enrollment and spending during the 2020-21 school year, with states adding only 12,000 preschool seats, according to The State of Preschool 2020, released recently by The National Institute for Early Education Research. However, there was some positive news: even during the pandemic, New Jersey and Oregon managed to expand access to preschool.
Was this newsletter forwarded to you?
Click here to subscribe!
More Early Childhood news 
Is the Hechinger Report part of your routine? Support it with a monthly gift.
Give today to make this message go away.
Tweet
Facebook
Our newsletters
Copyright © 2021 The Hechinger Report, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at our website The Hechinger Report.

Our mailing address is:
The Hechinger Report
475 Riverside Drive
Suite 650
New York, NY 10115

Add us to your address book


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Older messages

Research: Students perform better with a later start

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

And yet, as our columnist explains this week, it's a bit complicated. This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. 📬 View this email in your

Proof Points: New research on later school starts

Monday, April 26, 2021

A Minnesota study finds a small boost for grades but big boost for sleep with later school start times This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe.

Proposals to change Pell may get new life

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Not your mother's Pell Grant This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. View this email in your browser Support for this newsletter comes from

Future of Learning: A multicultural tech helpline

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Washington-based nonprofit helps families of color answer remote learning questions This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. View this email in

Flagship university disparities

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

"They're exacerbating racial inequities instead of combating them." This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. 📬 View this email in

Intro to gender data, How Instagram approves nipples, Climate newsletter writer at NYTimes

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Bloom Issue #60, Sept 19 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

FTI #274: Norm.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

There's so much to learn from a great comedian. How to write. How to communicate. How to persuade. How to be vulnerable. How to be authentic. How to develop a voice. How to be unique. How to stand

Work is infinite, time is finite

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Find time by taking inventory of it. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Ditching “me too” marketing

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Standing still vs. standing out ‌ ‌ ‌ Hey there, There have never been more brands (and more noise) than today. Why should customers pick you? Standing still: The biggest challenge for any business is

🎙️ Find That Pod # 128

Friday, September 17, 2021

ADVERTISEMENT Five Great New Podcasts Welcome to the 128th edition of Find That Pod. 🎁 It's time to give away some stickers. 🎁 Want a sweet FIND THAT POD vinyl sticker? Request one using this form

Say Hi!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Hi friend, It's been about a year since I sent out the first email of this newsletter and there are now over 500 of us learning together! It's been really great. I wanted to take this moment to

US Latinos - non-podcast listeners already listening to spoken word

Friday, September 17, 2021

iVoox launches new podcaster dashboard; Zencastr has a pause removal tool; C13Features signs more Hollywood stars 2 minutes to read · Your daily briefing for podcasting and on-demand, with 20312

12 favorite problems, POP writing & how to ask better questions [Scale Your Impact #58]

Friday, September 17, 2021

Your fill of copywriting, online course, and productivity insights ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

3-2-1: The measure of success, courage, and knowing what you want

Thursday, September 16, 2021

3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider this week. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

It all started with a Zoom call...

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Now, 50 episodes later, we're here to celebrate. Recently, one of our expert L&D guests for CLO Connect said something that really struck a nerve with me. “We don't need to keep anything a