Where children are born can affect their chances for a strong start in life. Babies need Good Health, Strong Families, and Positive Early Learning Experiences to foster their healthy brain development and help them realize their full potential.

This state profile provides a snapshot of how infants, toddlers, and their families are faring in each of these three policy domains. Within each domain, view data for selected child, family, and policy indicators compared to national averages. The profile begins with a demographic description of the state’s babies and families to offer the broadest context for exploring what may be very different experiences of the state’s youngest children.

Demographics

Infants and toddlers in District of Columbia
District of Columbia
National Average
Infants and toddlers in District of Columbia

District of Columbia is home to 28,420 babies, representing 4.0 percent of the state’s population. As many as 30.9 percent live in households with incomes less than twice the federal poverty line (in 2018, about $50,000 a year for a family of four), placing them at economic disadvantage. America’s youngest children are diverse and are raised in a variety of family contexts. In District of Columbia, 67.4 percent of babies are children of color and less than 1 percent of the state’s infants and toddlers live in rural areas. A broad array of policies and services are required to ensure all of them have an equitable start in life.

Race/ethnicity of infants and toddlers
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black
Hispanic
Non-Hispanic Other
Non-Hispanic Asian
American Indian/Alaska Native
Working Moms
Mothers in the Labor Force
Poverty status of infants and toddlers
Above Low-Income
In Poverty
Low-Income
Infants and toddlers in poverty, by race
Non-Hispanic Black
Hispanic
Non-Hispanic Other
Non-Hispanic White
Family structure
2-Parent Family
1-Parent Family
No Parents Present
Grandparent-headed households
Rural/Non-metro area
Living Outside of a Metro Area

Good Health

In District of Columbia
How are the District of Columbia’s babies faring in Good Health?

Good physical and mental health provide the foundation for babies to develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. The rate of brain growth is faster in the first 3 years than at any later stage of life, and this growth sets the stage for subsequent development. Access to good nutrition and affordable maternal, pediatric, and family health care is essential to ensure that babies receive the nourishment and care they need for a strong start in life.

The District of Columbia falls in the Improving Outcomes (O) tier for the Good Health domain. A state’s ranking is based on indicators of maternal and child health, including health care coverage, prenatal care, birth outcomes, and receipt of recommended preventive care as well as food security, nutrition, and mental health. District of Columbia performs better than national averages on key indicators, such as the percentages of uninsured babies in families with low income and babies receiving preventive medical care. The District is performing worse than national averages on indicators such as a higher infant mortality rate and the percentage of babies born at low birthweight. District of Columbia has implemented Medicaid expansion. The Medicaid program covers 2 of 5 screenings and services that support socioemotional well-being and maternal and infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH).

Six Key Indicators of Good Health
Click Plus symbol to see selected indicators by subgroup.
District of Columbia
National Avg
Infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births)
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0
Max: 4.7
White
Black
Hispanic
Uninsured low-income infants/toddlers
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 2.8%
White
Black
Hispanic
Urbanicity
Min: 0%
Max: 0.8%
Urban
Late or no prenatal care received
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 13.1%
White
Black
Hispanic
Urbanicity
Min: 0%
Max: 7.6%
Urban
Preterm births
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 13.5%
White
Black
Hispanic
Urbanicity
Min: 0%
Max: 10.1%
Urban
Babies with low birthweight
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 14.6%
White
Black
Hispanic
Urbanicity
Min: 0%
Max: 10.0%
Urban
Ever breastfed
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 96.0%
White
Black
Hispanic
Other
Income
Min: 0%
Max: 89.8%
Low Income
Above Low Income
Good Health Policy in District of Columbia
Medicaid expansion state
Yes
State Medicaid policy for maternal depression screening in well-child visits
Recommended
Medicaid plan covers social-emotional screening for young children
Yes
Medicaid plan covers IECMH services at home
No
Medicaid plan covers IECMH services at pediatric/family medicine practices
No
Medicaid plan covers IECMH services in early childhood education settings
No
All Good Health Indicators for District of Columbia
State Indicator:XXX.X
National Avg:XXX.X
Eligibility limit (% FPL) for pregnant women in Medicaid
324
200
Uninsured low-income infants/toddlers
0.8%
5.4%
Low or very low food security
10.2%
15.9%
Infants ever breastfed
81.1%
82.9%
Infants breastfed at 6 months
61.0%
54.6%
WIC coverage
100.0%
85.9%
High weight-for-length among WIC recipients
10.1%
N/A
Late or no prenatal care received
7.6%
6.2%
Mothers reporting less than optimal mental health
9.6%
19.8%
Infant mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births)
7.8
5.8
Babies with low birthweight
10.0%
8.3%
Preterm births
10.1%
10.0%
Preventive medical care received
96.6%
91.1%
Preventive dental care received
30.4%
31.9%
Received recommended vaccines
74.0%
70.4%
N/A indicates Not Applicable

Strong Families

In District of Columbia
How are District of Columbia’s babies faring in Strong Families?

Young children develop in the context of their families, where stability, safety, and supportive relationships nurture their growth. All families benefit from parenting supports, and many—particularly those challenged by economic instability—require access to additional resources that help them meet their children’s daily and developmental needs. Key supports include safe and stable housing, home visiting services, family-friendly employer policies, economic support for families with low income, and tax credits that benefit families with young children.

District of Columbia falls in the Working Effectively (W) tier of states when it comes to indicators of Strong Families. The state’s ranking in this domain reflects indicators on which it is performing better than the national average, such as the percentages of families in poverty with babies receiving TANF and babies who have had two or more adverse experiences. District of Columbia is doing worse than the national average on indicators such as the percentages of babies living in crowded housing and parents who report living in unsafe neighborhoods. Policy-wise, the state has implemented 4 of 5 policies that promote strong families, such as paid sick and family leave, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) options, the Child Tax Credit, and Earned Income Tax Credit.

Six Key Indicators of Strong Families
Click Plus symbol to see selected indicators by subgroup.
District of Columbia
National Avg
Family resilience
Income
Min: 0%
Max: 90.4%
Low Income
Above Low Income
TANF benefits receipt among families in poverty
Crowded housing
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 33.9%
White
Black
Hispanic
Other
Income
Min: 0%
Max: 30.3%
Low Income
Above Low Income
Urbanicity
Min: 0%
Max: 19.2%
Urban
Infant/toddler maltreatment rate
Time in out-of-home placement
Race/Ethnicity
Min: 0%
Max: 18.7%
White
Black
Hispanic
2 or more adverse childhood experiences
Income
Min: 0%
Max: 6.7%
Low Income
Above Low Income
Strong Families Policy in District of Columbia
Paid family leave
Yes
Paid sick time that covers care for child
Yes
TANF Work Exemption
Yes
State Child Tax Credit
No
State Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Yes
All Strong Families Indicators for District of Columbia
State Indicator:XXX.X
National Avg:XXX.X
TANF benefits receipt among families in poverty
88.2%
21.7%
Housing instability
0.5%
2.7%
Crowded housing
19.2%
15.5%
Unsafe neighborhoods
8.8%
5.8%
Family resilience
86.1%
85.2%
One adverse childhood experience
20.4%
22.4%
Two or more adverse childhood experiences
5.1%
8.6%
Infant/toddler maltreatment rate*
13.7
15.9
Out of home placements*
17.8%
20.2%
Infants/toddlers exiting foster care to permanency*
100.0%
98.6%
Potential home visiting beneficiaries served
1.9%
1.9%
*This indicator is not factored into the GROW tier rankings.

Positive Early Learning Experiences

In District of Columbia
How are District of Columbia’s babies faring in Positive Early Learning Experiences?

Infants and toddlers learn through play, active exploration of their environment, and, most importantly, through interactions with the significant adults in their lives. The quality of babies’ early learning experiences at home and in other care settings impacts how prepared they are for life-long learning and success. Parents who work or attend school require access to affordable, high-quality care options that foster their babies’ development. During this rapid period of growth, access to screening and early intervention is essential to address potential developmental delays.

District of Columbia scores in the Improving Outcomes (O) tier for Positive Early Learning Experiences. The state’s ranking in this domain reflects indicators on which it is performing better than the national average, such as the higher percentages of parents who read to their babies daily and income-eligible babies with access to Early Head Start. District of Columbia is doing worse than the national average on indicators such as the lower percentages of babies in families with low/moderate income who receive CCDF-funded care and babies who receive IDEA Part C services. Infant care costs as a percentage of the state’s median income for single and married parents also contribute to the ranking. The state offers child care subsidy assistance to families with incomes above 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Six Key Indicators of Positive Early Learning Experiences
Click Plus symbol to see selected indicators by subgroup.
District of Columbia
National Avg
Parent reads to baby every day
Income
Min: 0%
Max: 62.2%
Low Income
Above Low Income
Developmental screening received
Income
Min: 0%
Max: 34.5%
Low Income
Above Low Income
Percentage of infants/toddlers receiving IDEA Part C services
Cost of care, as % of income single parents
Percentage of income-eligible infants/toddlers with Early Head Start access
Low/moderate income infants/toddlers in CCDF funded-care
Positive Early Learning Experiences Policy in District of Columbia
Infant eligibility level for child care subsidy above 200% of FPL
Yes
Allocated CCDBG funds
Yes
Group size requirements meet or exceed EHS standards
2 age groups
Adult/child ratio requirements meet or exceed EHS standards
2 age groups
Level of teacher qualification required by the state
No credential beyond a high school diploma
Infant/toddler credential adopted
No
State reimburses center based child care at/above 75th percentile of market rates
No
State includes "at-risk" children as eligible for IDEA Part C services or reports that they serve “at-risk” children
No
All Positive Early Learning Experiences Indicators for District of Columbia
State Indicator:XXX.X
National Avg:XXX.X
Parent reads to baby every day
54.7%
37.8%
Parent sings to baby every day
65.8%
57.6%
Percentage of income-eligible infants/toddlers with Early Head Start access
23.0%
7.0%
Cost of care, as % of income married families
13.9%
N/A
Cost of care, as % of income single parents
89.1%
N/A
Low/moderate income infants/toddlers in CCDF funded-care
3.8%
4.2%
Developmental screening received
31.6%
31.1%
Infants/toddlers with developmental delay*
0.6%
1.0%
Percentage of infants/toddlers receiving IDEA Part C services
8.4%
9.7%
Timeliness of Part C services
95.0%
N/A
*This indicator is not factored into the GROW tier rankings.
N/A indicates Not Applicable
Explore District of Columbia's 2019 Data