What is the State of NC’s Environments and Policies for Babies in 2020?

The recently-released 2020 State of Babies Yearbook by national organization Zero to Three provides a snapshot of how well North Carolina’s health, family supports, and early learning systems are supporting our babies and toddlers. The report assesses states on a series of 32 health, family and education data indicators and groups states into four tiers of approximately equal groups:

  • G: Getting Started
  • R: Reaching Forward
  • O: Improving Outcomes
  • W: Working Effectively

Overall, NC scored in the O tier — better than 26 states, worse than 11 and DC, and about the same as 12. It is worth noting that NC outscored all other southern states.

New in 2020:  Disaggregated Data

The 2020 Yearbook is the second year of the project, and Zero to Three intends to add more functionality each year. This year, they have shared disaggregated data, by race/ethnicity, urbanicity and income, where available. 


For example, this graphic shows that Black babies and babies from rural parts of the state are more likely to suffer pre-term births in North Carolina than are white and Hispanic babies, and babies from urban areas.






How is NC Doing in 2020?

The yearbook is divided into Health, Family and Early Learning indicators.

Good Health Indicators

For Health indicators, NC ranks O overall, same as last year, despite several declines in individual indicators’ ranks. Here are how the individual indicators rank and their changes since the inaugural State of Babies Yearbook last year:

IndicatorsRankingChange since 2019
Low or very low food securityGDeclined
Babies with low birthweight
GNo change
Infant mortality rateGNo change
Infants breastfed at 6 months
Received recommended vaccinesRDeclined
Late or no prenatal care received
RNo change
Preterm birthsR(New indicator in 2020)
Mothers reporting less than optimal mental healthRDeclined
Eligibility limit (% FPL) for pregnant women in MedicaidONo change
High weight-for-length among WIC recipientsO(New indicator in 2020)
Preventive medical care received
Uninsured low-income infants/toddlersONo change
Infants ever breastfed
ONo change
WIC coverage
O(New indicator in 2020)
Preventive dental care receivedWImproved


Strong Families Indicators

For Families indicators, NC ranks R overall, same as last year, despite several improvements in individual indicators’ ranks. Here are how the individual indicators rank and their changes since last year.

IndicatorsRankingChange since 2019
TANF benefits receipt among families in povertyGNo change
Two or more adverse childhood experiencesGDeclined
One adverse childhood experienceRImproved
Crowded housingOImproved
Housing instability
Potential home visiting beneficiaries served
Family resilience
ONo change
Safe neighborhoodsWNo change


Positive Early Learning Experience Indicators

For Early Learning indicators, NC ranks W overall, an improvement from O in this category last year, despite most indicators’ ranks not changing. Here are how the individual indicators rank and their change since last year.

IndicatorsRankingChange since 2019
Percentage of income-eligible infants/toddlers with Early Head Start accessGNo change
Cost of care, as % of income single parentsRNo change
Percentage of infants/toddlers receiving IDEA Part C servicesRNo change
Parent reads to baby every day
ONo change
Cost of care, as % of income married familiesONo change
Low/moderate income infants/toddlers in CCDF funded-careONo change
Parent sings to baby every day
Timeliness of Part C services
W(New indicator in 2020)
Developmental screening receivedWNo change

For more detail on the data indicators and sources, see the full Yearbook report. You can also view North Carolina’s full profile.

Pathways Data Dashboard to be Released 

Many of the data indicators assessed in the 2020 Yearbook are also included in the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success Framework. NCECF is releasing this week an interactive, online Pathways Data Dashboard that includes NC data on more than 60 measures of child development across the health, family and education sectors that research shows influence third-grade reading scores. Whenever possible, the dashboard presents data at the state level, compared to national averages; at the county or school district level; by race and ethnicity; by income; by age; and over several years.