Equity for young people starts from

Early Childhood.

Early Childhood Icon

Birth Outcomes

For both babies and parents, birth outcomes are worse for DC’s Black and Latinx residents.
  • Eight Black babies died in their first year out of every 1,000 live births.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, there were 36 parental deaths due to complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. 33 of those who died were Black and one was Latinx.
  • Medicaid is an important program for pregnant DC residents. During 2018, Medicaid covered almost 3,200 pregnant parents at the time of birth in the District, totaling 35% of all births in DC.
First Trimester DC Prenatal Care by Race (2022)
Demographics Icon

Race & Equity

Children Under 5 Living in Poverty
34%
Black
6,114 children
1%
White
<100 children
14%
Latinx
982 children

Healthy Development

Young children could benefit from more access to health supports.
  • DC’s population of children under 3 decreased 10% from 26,983 in 2016’s five-year-average to 24,253 in 2022’s 5-year average.
  • In 2023, roughly 1 out of 6 DC children in foster care (81 out of 498) was under 3.
  • 72% of the DC residents receiving WIC (Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children) recipients are Black and 25% are Latinx. WIC participation declined for several years (from 75% of eligible people in 2008 to 45% in 2018) before a reduction in the estimated number of eligible District residents cause the rates to look better in 2019.
  • Vaccine coverage of kindergarten students has started increasing after years of decline. The percent of DC public school kindergartners that had been vaccinated for DTAP/DT was 85% in the 2022-23 school year, less than the 92% rate in the 2012-13 school year but better than the 82% rate in the 2021-22 school year. The percentage of kindergarten students vaccinated for MMR has improved even more after a similar pattern, reaching 88% in 2022-23.
  • Home visiting is a way of delivering prevention and early intervention services for expecting parents and families of young children. DC home visiting programs supported more than 2,628 parents and children in 2023.
DC Early Childhood Population Trends
DC Early Childhood Population Trends
Population by Single Year Estimate

Early Care & Education

Early care and education subsidies reach a fraction of families who need them.
  • The District only has enough licensed early care and education seats for 41% of infants and toddlers. And shortages particularly affect areas with many Black families.
  • In fiscal year 2023 4,720 District infants and toddlers received child care subsidies, an increase of nearly 1,600 from the prior year but still fewer children than the 5,173 receiving a subsidy in fiscal year 2019. While the number of infants and toddlers in the District has decreased slightly, there are still nearly twice as many infants and toddlers in families who would be eligible for a subsidy based on income than there are infants and toddlers enrolled in the subsidy program. One barrier is the difficulty of finding a seat with a child care provider, especially one who participates in the subsidy program. DC needs thousands more seats to have one for every infant and toddler predicted to be in the District.
  • One hurdle to increasing child care capacity is the low pay that early learning providers receive. Early educators in DC’s community-based organizations earned an average annual salary of only $37,300 as of May 2021. In August 2021 the DC Council voted to increase compensation for early educators, paid for by a new tax increase on the District’s highest earners. In March 2022 the DC’s Early Educator Equitable Compensation Task Force put out detailed recommendations about how to implement a statewide, publicly funded permanent early educator compensation program.
Infants and Toddlers in Families with Incomes Less than or Equal to 300% FPL
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Race & Equity

Pre-K Public Enrollment (2022-23)
59%
Black
7,868 children
21%
White
2,766 children
14%
Latinx
1,857 children

Pre-Kindergarten

DC’s success in expanding pre-K is an example of what’s possible for infants and toddlers
  • While public pre-K enrollment increased in all sectors from 2012 to 2018, charters and community-based organizations grew much faster than DCPS. However, between 2018 and 2020 enrollment in pre-K through DCPS and community-based organizations continued to grow whereas at charter schools it decreased, and since the COVID-19 pandemic began enrollment in charter school pre-K has decreased while in DCPS and community-based organizations it’s stayed flat or even increased.
  • Enrollment of four-year-olds continues to be higher than enrollment of three-year-olds, a pattern that was exacerbated by a sharper drop in three-year-old enrollment in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years. While that is likely due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic (and enrollment did increase in the 2022-23 school year), a recent analysis by DC Policy Center suggests that declining births played a role as well.
Pre-K Enrollment by Site

Find more information about all the demographic measures in our data references section and visit our appendix to download a table with the full DC KIDS COUNT 2024 data set.