PRESS RELEASE: DC in the State of Babies Yearbook

Zero To Three State of Babies 2020


COVID-19 pandemic and racial protests have exposed and exacerbated disparities among young children 

Kimberly Perry, DC Action for Children, 202-487-0522
Max Samis, ZERO TO THREE, 202-857-2658

WASHINGTON, DC – A new report, the State of Babies Yearbook: 2020, released today by early childhood development nonprofit ZERO TO THREE, comes at a critical time in our nation’s response, especially as the District of Columbia and the nation reckon with our racist history. In the report, the research compiles nearly 60 indicators that affect the well-being of children ages 0 to 3 and provides an in-depth look at national and state-by-state progress across three policy areas: good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences. 

The State of Babies Yearbook: 2020 highlights that, while the District has successfully reached families with some programs, Black and brown children continue to be left behind by federal and District policies. According to ZERO TO THREE, almost half (45%) of all Black infants and toddlers in the District live in poverty (the report did not include data for Latinx infants and toddlers), demonstrating persistent barriers to opportunity, rooted in systemic racism. Families with lower incomes are more than twice as likely as families with higher incomes to live in crowded housing (30% vs. 13%), indicating DC’s shortage of affordable housing options.

Other key data for the District:

  • Black expectant parents in DC are more than twice as likely to get prenatal care late, or not get it at all, compared to the national average (for all races): 13.1% vs. 6.2%.

  • In some ways DC does better than the national average at providing economic supports to families struggling to make ends meet, with more access to programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and public health insurance and health coverage, where only 0.8% of infants and toddlers living in low-income households are uninsured. 

  • Despite high enrollment in public health insurance, the District conducts fewer developmental screenings of infants and toddlers living in low-income households than it does for infants and toddlers living in wealthier households (24% vs. 36%); which may result in many children not receiving the interventions they need.

  • DC has a higher percentage of working moms than the national average: 78.9% vs. 61.6%. 

The District has aimed to address many of these issues in recent years. Recent legislation such as Birth to Three for All DC and Paid Family Leave are critical steps forward, but DC’s lawmakers must sustain and bolster investments so that all children have everything they need to meet their full potential.

“While the District is a trailblazer in early childhood policy, there is much more work to be done to close racial gaps,” said DC Action for Children Executive Director Kimberly Perry. “We are proud to co-chair the  Under 3 DC Coalition, which harnesses the voices of Black and Brown parents, educators and community leaders to demand progress and institutionalize change. In response, the District’s lawmakers' commitment to Black and Brown children must be bold and it must be sustained.”  

See the DC State Profile 

See the Zero To Three full report  

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ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all infants and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit,, or follow @ZEROTOTHREE on Twitter.

About Think Babies

ZERO TO THREE created Think Babies to make the potential of every baby a national priority. When we Think Babies and invest in infants, toddlers, and their families, we ensure a strong future for us all. Learn more at or follow @ZEROTOTHREE on Twitter.          

About DC Action for Children 

DC Action for Children and DC Alliance of Youth Advocates recently merged to form an even stronger, independent voice for children and youth. We provide data analysis, policy solutions, and collective advocacy on critical issues facing DC children and youth. We envision a District of Columbia where all children, regardless of their race or ethnicity, family’s income or zip code, have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We are also the home of DC KIDS COUNT, an online resource that tracks key indicators of child and youth well-being in the District. Since our inception, we have monitored child poverty and the supports intended to help families meet their children’s basic needs regardless of income. Learn more at or follow on Twitter.


June 12, 2020