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Early Childhood Profile

 OverviewHealth and Nutrition

State policies that promote health, education, and strong families can help the early development and school readiness of America’s youngest citizens. These state policies are especially important to low-income families whose young children lack access to the kinds of supports and opportunities that their more affluent peers receive. It takes at least twice the official federal poverty level (FPL), or $37,060 for a family of three in 2011, for families to provide the basic necessities that their young children need to thrive.1 Nationally, 10 million children under the age of 6 live in families earning twice the federal poverty level or less.2 The National Center for Children in Poverty’s Improving the Odds for Young Children project shines a spotlight on state variation in the policy commitment to low-income young children and families.

This national profile aggregates the policy choices of the 50 states and the District of Columbia alongside other contextual data related to the well-being of young children. The first page presents demographic information on children younger than age 6, and subsequent pages profile the policy context related to their: (1) health and nutrition, (2) early care and education, and (3) parenting and economic supports. State specific profiles are also available.

Complete source citations and endnotes are included with this profile. For easy reference, the year of the data appears in brackets. To show the range of variation among states, some graphs identify the states with the highest and lowest percentages alongside the national average.

In addition to the state and national profiles, the project includes:

  • Data tables that allow for comparisons across states on each policy choice
  • A national report summarizing the research base for policies that promote early childhood development and key findings from the state profiles.

The Early Childhood Profiles will now include policy benchmarks that reflect key supports for the well-being and healthy development of children through age eight. Benchmarks relevant to this expanded early childhood age band will be added in future updates as new policy data become available.

Young children by income, 2011

Young children by income, 20112

Young children by race/ethnicity, 2011

Young children by race/ethnicity, 20112

Exposure to multiple risk factors among
young children, 2011*

Exposure to multiple risk factors among young children, 2011*2


 Health and Nutrition

Data Notes and Sources

Last Updated: September 16, 2013

Send us recent developments to update your state's profile.

  1. National Center for Children in Poverty Family Resource Simulator; and Jared Berstein, Chauna Brocht, and Maggie Spade-Aguilar, How much is enough? Basic family budgets for working families, Economic Policy Institute, 2000. These numbers are from the federal poverty guidelines issued annually by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://aspe.hhs.gov
  2. National data were calculated from the 2011 American Community Survey, representing information from 2011. State data were calculated from the 2009-2011 American Community Survey, representing information from the years 2009 to 2011.