The Youngest Americans: A Statistical Portrait of Infants & Toddlers in the U.S.

November 29, 2013
America’s youngest children—12 million infants and toddlers—are the leading edge of a demographic transformation in the U.S. They herald a nation more diverse with respect to race/ethnicity, country of origin, language, and family type than at any time in our recent history. They are surrounded by, and engaged with, new technology. Most of our youngest Americans, according to their parents, have at least some of the important characteristics associated with optimal development.

At the same time, they are a generation characterized by marked inequities, with disturbing proportions facing severe disadvantage that imposes both immediate and lasting threats to well-being. Significant numbers are born into families without the human and financial resources to pro- mote their development; disparities by race and Hispanic origin persist; public policy responses have been slow to materialize and, where they exist, often serve only a fraction of the children in need.

This report, commissioned by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, focuses on infants and toddlers, their parents, communities, and the resources that exist to support them. This generation is more diverse than any in recent history, yet it is characterized by multiple inequities.