Early Childhood2021-04-21T20:53:04+00:00

Equity for young people at
every step starts from

Early Childhood.

Birth Outcomes

For both babies and parents, birth outcomes are worse for DC’s Black and Latinx residents.

  • Twelve Black babies died in their first year out of every 1,000 live births, as did roughly four Latinx babies out of every 1,000 live births.
  • Between 2013 and 2017, there were 20 parental deaths due to complications related to pregnancy. 19 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

Race & Equity

Children Under 5 Living in Poverty







Healthy Development

While the population of young children is growing faster than other age groups, early childhood access to health supports is declining.

  • DC’s population of children under 3 increased 20% from 22,366 in 2013’s five-year-average to 26,734 in 2018. In 2019, 1 of the 5 DC children in foster care (119) was under 3.
  • 73% of the DC residents receiving WIC (Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children) recipients are Black and 25% are Latinx. WIC participation has been down in recent years (46% in 2017 from 62% in 2012) and there’s concern that lingering fear and confusion after the Trump administration’s ‘Public Charge’ rule may deter more families despite that change now being overturned.
  • Vaccine coverage of kindergarten students is also declining. Percent of DC public school kindergarteners that had been vaccinated for DTAP/DT has declined from 92% to 80% and MMR has declined from 92% to 81%.
  • Home visiting is a way of delivering prevention and early intervention services for expecting parents and families of young children. DC home visiting programs have the capacity to serve 1,362 children and families. In 2020, programs served 1,277 families.

DC Early Childhood Population Trends

Impacts of COVID-19

Two-thirds of early learning programs reopened by the end of November 2020, but DC families are not re-enrolling children at pre-COVID rates: fewer than one-third of programs reported being fully enrolled.

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Early Care & Education

Early care and education subsidies reach fewer than half of families who need them.

  • There are 2.3 infants and toddlers living in DC for each licensed early learning slot (11,662). In most of the District child care supply trails potential demand, while in areas with much lower child poverty (wards 2 and 3) supply is much closer to matching potential demand.
  • 5,173 infants and toddlers received child care subsidies in fiscal year 2019 (which decreased to 3,344 in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). But DC needs almost 5,000 more seats to have one for every infant and toddler predicted to be eligible for a child care subsidy by 2023, and would need more than 15,000 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 earn an average annual salary of only $34,000.

DC Potential Demand for Each Licensed ECE Learning Slot

Race & Equity

Pre-K Public Enrollment (FY 2018)








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 2013 to 2018, charters (+18%) and community-based organizations (+67%) grew much faster than public schools (+4%).
  • 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 school year, presumably due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pre-K Enrollment by Site


Rosa Peleaz
Registered Family Provider, Brightwood

Real Stories

“Because of the lack of government support, the burden of helping families get back on their feet is financially falling on me. I have a big heart but this shouldn’t fall on me.”

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Find more information about all the early childhood measures in our data references section and visit our appendix to download a table with the full DC Kids Count 2021 data set.