On Thursday, April 22, 2021, Zero to Three held the State of Babies Summit to release the State of Babies Yearbook: 2021, which shows that even before the economic and social fallout of COVID-19, the babies of our nation did not have the supports needed to thrive. The pandemic has only further exacerbated disparities that affect the development of babies and the stability of families. The Yearbook provides 60 indicators of policies and well-being in order to gauge what babies and families are faring and what states are doing to respond. This year’s report included data collected from the Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development – Early Childhood Household Survey (RAPID-EC).
In the United States, 50 percent of babies are children of color, making our children the most diverse group ever. Two in five babies live families of low-income, and nearly one in ten live in rural areas. The Yearbook examines the experiences of young children and families by collecting more data that examines indicators by race and ethnicity, income, and urbanicity. The findings show that babies are more likely than any other age group to live in poverty. Babies in families of low-income frequently experienced less access to preventative medical care, and the pandemic resulted in less well-child visits and vaccinations for those babies. Food insecurity, adverse early experiences, and child care were also impacted by COVID-19 and its economic and social consequences. During the pandemic, food insecurity among families in the United States rose to 45 percent from the previous 13.7 percent. The pandemic also affected the emotional well-being of parents and children and further impacted the number of adverse early experiences faced by babies.
The State of Babies Yearbook: 2021 focuses on the lack of accessible child care to families of low-income that dates back to before the start pandemic. COVID-19 has only highlighted the need for policy change to the deep-seated inequalities resulting in the inability of our nation’s babies to thrive. It calls for bold and durable policies aimed at correcting these inequalities and recognizing the urgency for consistent and accessible childcare for all children.