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Key Facts and Resources

Working families need child care and supportive employer policies to be able to meet the needs of their young children throughout the day.

  • In the United States the majority of mothers with children under age 18 work, including 59% of those with infants and 74% of those with school-aged children.

  • Approximately 13 million infants, toddlers, and preschool children are regularly in non-parental care in the United States, including 45% of children younger than one year.

  • The Census Bureau reports that approximately 50% of working families rely on child care providers to help them care for their children while they work; 25% rely on relatives for child care; and nearly 25% arrange work schedules so that no child care is needed (e.g. parents work different hours or days; one parent works during school hours and is home after school).

Children, especially those from low-income families, need better access to high-quality early childhood programs.

  • Research shows that high-quality early childhood programs help children--especially those from families with low-incomes--develop the skills they need to succeed in school. However, most programs in the United States are rated mediocre, and fewer than 10% meet national accreditation standards. Across the nation child care fees average $4,000 to $10,000 per year, exceeding the cost of public universities in most states. Yet, nationally only 1 in 7 children who are financially eligible for child care subsidies is being served, and only 41% of 3 and 4 year old children living in poverty are enrolled in preschool, compared to 58% of those whose families have higher incomes.

  • Communities are becoming increasingly diverse and in order for early childhood educators to be effective they must be sensitive and responsive to children's cultural and linguistic backgrounds. If current population trends continue, by the year 2010 55% of America's children will be white, 22% will be Hispanic, 16% will be black, and 6% will be Asian or Pacific Islander.

Too many children in the United States live in poverty, without good nutrition and health care.

  • In the United States 18% of children under age 18 and 24% of children under age 6 live in poverty. It is estimated that 12 million children do not have enough food to meet their basic needs and approximately 3.2 million are suffering from hunger.

  • In the United States 15% of children under age 18--and 24% of those living in poverty--are not covered by health insurance.

  • Approximately one-third of children and nearly one-half of black children born in the United States have at least one health risk at birth.

  • More than 20% of 2-year-olds in the United States are not fully immunized.

What can be done?

Federal, state and local government, communities, parents, and the private sector must share in the responsibility of ensuring the well-being of children and families. We can and must do more to create opportunities that help all children and families succeed. We can invest now in our children and families and enjoy long-term savings, with a more vibrant nation of healthy, achieving children and more stable families. Or we can fail to make the investment and pay the price: increased delinquency, greater educational failures, lowered productivity, less economic competitiveness, and fewer adults prepared to be effective, loving parents to the next generation of children.

The Week of the Young Child is an opportunity for programs, NAEYC Affiliates, related organizations, communities, and states to focus on the needs of young children and their families. There are countless ways to celebrate the week, which is first and foremost a grassroots effort. Use the online Guide to WOYC Celebrations for suggested strategies for involving community partners, activity ideas, resources, and groups to contact.

Resources for state and local data on children and families:

  • Annie E. Casey Foundation: the annual Kids Count report provides state-by-state data on key indicators of children's well being.

      Visit their web site at http://www.kidscount.org/sld/compare.jsp or call 410-223-2852.
    • Children's Defense Fund: produces a number of reports about children and how states are meeting their needs. Visit their web site at http://www.childrensdefense.org or call 202-628-8787.

    • Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics: releases an annual report entitled, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being. Visit their web site at http://www.childstats.gov or call the National Maternal Child Health Clearinghouse at 703-356-1964.

    • National Center for Education Statistics: provides online access to education databases and updates national statistics on an annual basis in reports, such as The Condition of Education. Visit their Web site at http://nces.ed.gov/ or call 202-502-7300.

    • National Child Care Information Center: provides links to child care research, state child care profiles and a searchable, online database with state-by-state information about children and child care. Visit their Web site at http://nccic.org or call 800-616-2242.