Families with young children in America are more likely to have low household income or live in poverty than other families.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many as 40 percent of infants and toddlers lived in families that earned less than 200 percent of the FPL ($51,500 a year for a family of four in 2019) and faced the challenges of not have the financial resources to make ends meet during the critical first 3 years of their children’s lives. And although infants and toddlers represent only 3.5 percent of the nation’s population, they account for 6 percent of those in poverty.
Several of the State of Babies Yearbook indicators can be examined for differences in the experiences of babies and their families according to their household income level. Applying an income lens to the Yearbook’s findings offers a more in-depth view of the many areas in which lack of economic security can create early barriers to the ability of babies in families with low income to thrive (e.g., limited access to quality health care services, stable housing, reliable income and employment, and quality child care).
How does living with low income or in poverty affect the lives of North Carolina’s babies and families?
The selected set of State of Babies indicators below provides a pre-pandemic snapshot of families’ economic status, the specific areas in which they are likely to experience challenges meeting their babies’ physical, social-emotional, and developmental needs; the extent to which they have access to and are reached by existing policies; and offers a view of where your state’s policies currently address or can be expanded to further assist families in supporting their babies’ well-being. To deepen your understanding of how families’ experiences vary, select the + icon where it appears with an indicator to view the data by income.
Nationally, nearly 1 in 5 (18.6 percent) of the nation’s 11.5 million babies were living in poverty. Nearly 1 in 5 (18.6 percent) are in families that live below the poverty level that face even greater challenges meeting their basic needs. These 2021 Yearbook findings reflect what had been a slight downward trend from previous years, but still represent a very concerning proportion of young children in families that experience economic insecurity.
*Numbers are small; use caution in interpreting.
Note: N/A indicates Not Available
Supporting babies’ and mothers’ physical and mental health provides the foundation for infants’ lifelong physical, cognitive, emotional, and social well-being. Babies’ brains grow rapidly in the first years of life, and, in these early years, the brain works with other organs and organ systems to set the stage for subsequent development and health outcomes. The following indicators, related to coverage and access to health care, food insecurity and nutrition support, and babies and mothers’ health, highlight areas of need and, income-related differences, where possible.
Health Care Access/Affordability
Food & Nutrition
Which of the following supportive policies does North Carolina have in place to improve the health of babies in families with low income?
Young children develop in the context of their families, where stability, safety, and supportive relationships nurture their growth. The indicators in this domain examine this family context, including well-being, economic resources, and physical environment, as well as the experience of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system. The following indicators, related to access to basic needs, family resilience, and young children's exposure to adverse early life experiences, highlight areas of need, and income-related differences, where possible.
Families Ability to Meet Basic Need
Resilience & Risks to Well-being
Which of the following supportive policies does North Carolina have in place to improve the economic security and well-being of babies in families with low income?
Positive Early Learning Experiences
Infants and toddlers learn through interactions with the significant adults in their lives and active exploration of enriching environments. The quality of infants' and toddlers’ early learning experiences at home and in other care settings can impact their cognitive and social-emotional development, as well as early literacy. The following indicators, related to cost and access to child care, home learning opportunities, and access to early prevention services, highlight areas of need and income-related differences, where possible.
Early Care and Education Opportunities
Early Intervention and Prevention Services
Which of the following supportive policies does North Carolina have in place to improve early learning experiences of babies in families with low income?