Economic insecurity and the litany of risk factors associated with it mean Nevada is considered one of the worst states in the country for infants and toddlers.
A report titled “The State of Babies,” released Wednesday by the early childhood advocacy group Zero to Three and the nonprofit research organization Child Trends, looked at 60 indicators related to the well-being of children between the ages of zero to three. Indicators included housing and food insecurity, cost of childcare, and medical insurance coverage. Nevada fared poorly in a majority of categories, placing it in the lowest of the four-tiered ranking system. Twelve other states ranked in the bottom tier.
The report did not rank the 50 states numerically. However, only one other state — Arkansas — received the lowest possible ranking in all three of the major categories the indicators were grouped by: good health, strong families, positive early learning experiences.
According to the report, as many as 51 percent of infants and toddlers in Nevada live in households considered economically disadvantaged — 22.3 percent are classified as living in poverty and another 28.4 percent are considered low income. The report defined low income as a household with an income less than twice the federal poverty level. For a family of four in 2017, that means less than $50,000.
Nationally, as many as 45 percent of infants and toddlers live in households considered economically disadvantaged.
Other troubling findings about Nevada from the report:
- 19.1 percent of infants and toddlers in Nevada live in households with low or very low food security, compared to 16.5 percent nationally
- 4.7 percent of infants and toddlers have housing instability, compared to 2.5 percent nationally
- 17.7 percent of Nevada infants and toddlers live in crowded housing, compared to 15.6 percent nationally
- 10.9 percent of low-income infants and toddlers are uninsured, compared to 5.8 percent nationally
- 8.2 percent of Nevada mothers received late or no prenatal care, compared to 6.2 percent nationally
- 49.9 percent of infants are breastfed at 6 months, compared to a national average of 57.6 percent
The report also noted Nevada has no policy ensuring that paid sick time covers care for a child. The state also does not have a policy on paid family leave. A bill has been introduced into the Legislature to address the former issue.
Nevada is home to 111,170 infants and toddlers. They make up 3.7 percent of the state’s total population.
The report calls for a strengthening of a broad array of policies and programs related to young children and their families, arguing that development in a child’s first three years has lifelong effects. Children of color are disproportionately affected.
Other, less depressing, data from the report: 58.5 percent of parents in Nevada sing to their infant or toddler every day, compared to the national average of 56.4 percent. (Baby shark do do do do do do?) When it comes to reading to their little one every day, 31.2 percent of Nevada parents say they do, compared to 38.2 percent nationally.
Download the full report here.