A Snapshot of Well-Being of North Carolina’s Children

Each year NC Child reports on the state of children’s well-being in NC based on publicly available data. Their 2021 data dashboard provides a snapshot of how our children (2.4 million from birth to age 18) were faring before the pandemic, and provides key indicators to track as the recovery advances. Our economic prosperity is linked to our children reaching their full potential, beginning with healthy development, supported and supportive families and high-quality learning environments starting from birth.

A statewide data card and one for each county is presented with infographics that can be downloaded. The data cards present the latest information on child well-being in five areas:

  • A Strong Start
  • Family Economic Security
  • Nurturing Homes and Communities
  • Health and Wellness
  • High-Quality Education

Taken together, this data tell a story about our young children’s foundation for strong social, emotional and physical health and academic and career success. North Carolina has made progress in some areas of child well-being and has lost ground in others.

Several indicators show disparities by race, ethnicity and geography. Particularly concerning disparities include babies born with low birth weight, infant mortality rate, children without health insurance, and children experiencing food insecurity.

  • Low birth weight (under 5.5 lb.) accounts for 14.3% of African American or Black babies and 7.5% of white babies.
  • North Carolina still has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the nation. Infant mortality among African American or Black infants is 12.5% and 4.7% for white infants.
  • Five percent of children in NC do not have health insurance, while 11.1% of Latinx or Hispanic children lack insurance.
  • Between 10 and 22% of children in seven rural counties are uninsured.

These disparities put children of color at a disadvantage for on track health and development and succeeding in school, starting at birth. They also impact opportunities for parents of color, such as employment, as they experience loss or care for children in their early years of development with fewer resources.

Parents are the first and most important teachers in a child’s life. Communities and workplaces have a role too. Communities can contribute to strong family supports such as funding to increase access to NC PreK. Employers can create family-friendly workplaces. With benefits such as paid parental leave, employers gain a strategic advantage to recruit and retain talent, provide parents the time they need to care for their children, which in turn supports the health and well-being of young children.

Explore the county data dashboard and data cards to learn more about key measures of success for children and families in your community, and what resources are needed today to ensure they are on the path for future success.