New research from early childhood experts at Child Trends and Zero to Three finds that Virginia has significant room to improve how it supports the state’s infants and toddlers. Virginia is among twelve other states in the second-lowest of four categories measuring how effectively states support children during the first three years of their lives.
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 compiles and examines more than 60 policies and indicators related to infant and toddler well-being in three categories (health, family supports, and early education) to rank states by how effectively they support children during their first three years. The report emphasizes that the state in which a child is born and spends the first three years of their life has a significant impact on their future health, well-being, and success.
Virginia’s infants and toddlers fare worse than the national average among key indicators of well-being. For example:
- Developmental delays: 4 percent of young children in Virginia have a developmental delay, compared to the national average of 1 percent.
- Early Head Start: 4 percent of Virginian infants and toddlers in families with income below the federal poverty line have access to Early Head Start, compared to the national average of 7 percent.
- Child care: 2 percent of young children in Virginia with family incomes equal to or below 150 percent of the state median income received a child care subsidy, compared to the national average of 4 percent.
While Virginia can improve its early learning policies, the research also highlights areas in which Virginia is already working effectively to support its youngest residents. For example, Virginia’s infants and toddlers fare better than the national average in other key indicators:
- Breastfeeding: 63 percent of young children in Virginia have ever been breastfed at 6 months of age, compared to the national average of 58 percent.
- Infant/child maltreatment: The infant and child maltreatment rate in Virginia is 5.3 per 1,000 young children, compared to the national average of 16 per 1,000 young children.
“The first three years of life are a critical period that impacts a child’s lifelong health, well-being, and success. This report can help public officials and advocates make sure their state is doing everything possible to support children’s development from their very first moments in the world,” said Sarah Daily, a lead author on the report and early childhood expert at Child Trends. “Every state has room to grow to make sure that children can have a strong start in life, no matter where they are born.”
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2019 is a collaborative effort between Zero to Three, an early childhood development nonprofit, and Child Trends, a nonpartisan research organization. The Yearbook was produced as part of Zero to Three’s Think Babies campaign.