Nevada performs significantly worse than national averages on several indicators of infant and toddler health and wellness. (Photo by Sarah Chai from Pexels)
Policy, politics and progressive commentary
Nevada was among the nation’s least supportive states for families with infants and toddlers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released Tuesday.
The report— State of Babies Yearbook: 2022—published by national nonprofit ZERO TO THREE placed Nevada in the lowest tier, “Getting Started,” ranking the state as one of the least effective nationally in supporting children and families.
Nevada is home to 108,316 infants, representing 3.5% of the state’s population, according to an analysis of Census data cited in the report.
Researchers found that more than 4 out of 10 infants in Nevada live in households with incomes less than twice the federal poverty line, about $52,400 for a family of four in 2020, leaving children in Nevada at an economic disadvantage compared to those in other states.
The report also found that children from families of color and families with low incomes were even more vulnerable to economic and care disparities, a troubling factor in Nevada which has an increasingly diverse population, according to Census data, including a surge in the number of people identifying as multiracial.
Over the past decade, Nevada’s Black population grew by 39.4%, Asians by 39.5%, American Indian and Alaska Natives by 37%, Hispanics by 24.3%, and Nevadans who identify as two or more races has more than tripled.
“The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated our nation’s longstanding failure to invest in the health and well-being of every baby, particularly Nevada’s families of color and those with low incomes,” said Miriam Calderón, chief policy officer at ZERO TO THREE. “In Nevada, families with young children are not receiving the resources they need to provide their infants and toddlers with the basic necessities required to thrive, which can have lifelong repercussions.”
The report measures children outcomes using three areas research shows infants and toddlers need to succeed: good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences.
Nevada performs significantly worse than national averages on several indicators in all three categories.
Looking at measures for “good health,” the percentages of women receiving late or no prenatal care in Nevada is 9.4% compared to 6.4% nationally. Mothers also report less than favorable mental health in Nevada at 27.6% compared to 21.9% at the national level.
Infants and toddlers from low-income families in Nevada are higher than the national average at 6.5% compared to 5.1% nationally.
Nevada, however, did perform better than the national average on the percentage of babies receiving preventive medical care at 92.8% compared to 91% nationally.
Nevada is doing worse than the national average on several indicators of “strong families” including percentages of infants who have been subjected to housing instability, low or very low food security, or have had two or more adverse experiences such as domestic violence or having a parent in jail.
The percentage of families in Nevada experiencing housing instability is double the national average, at about 6% compared to about 3% nationally.
The report notes Nevada lacks many policies that create “strong families” including paid family leave, paid sick time that covers care for children, exemptions allowing working families to obtain Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a state child tax credit, and a state earned income tax credit.
Nevada also landed in the lowest tier for “positive early learning experience” as measured by the report.
Nevada is doing worse than the national average on indicators such as the percentage of babies in families below 100 percent of the federal poverty line with access to Early Head Start, according to the report.
The percentage of toddlers with access to Early Head Start programs in Nevada was more than twice as low as the national average, at 5% compared to 11% nationally.
The state also had a significantly lower percentage of toddlers with access to developmental screening than nationally, at 27.3% compared to 33.8%.
The report noted a number of policies Nevada lacks that could lead to more “positive early learning experiences,” including higher qualification standards for teachers, higher credential requirements for child care, and a state reimbursed center-based child care.
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