Where a child is born can influence what resources are available for early childhood development. According to a new assessment, there is room for improvement for Utah babies and families compared to other states in the nation.
"The State of Babies Yearbook tells a state-by-state story of America’s babies," said Patricia Cole, the director of federal policy for the non-profit Zero to Three, which just released the first State of the Babies Yearbook.
"It compares state-by-state data of wellbeing of infants and toddlers and then it provides policymakers and advocates with both national and state data to help them identify policies that are needed and to move those polices forward," Cole said.
This assessment of Utah infants and their families provides a snapshot of how Utah is doing compared to other states. There are three developmental categories in the assessment: the first category is good physical and mental health
"So Utah’s babies and families fare very well in birth outcomes," Cole said. "So for instance, more moms get prenatal care, fewer infants are born with low birth weight and there’s also a lower instance of infant mortality."
The second category of this assessment is strong families and the ability of families to buffer their children from hardship.
"We did a measure of family resilience and it is much higher than the nation as a whole. It is in the top tier for that indicator for how families are able to cope with unexpected stresses."
And the final category is positive early learning experiences.
"Utah is in the lowest category and I think there are a couple of things to look at there," Cole said. "One area that we’re really flagging is the low percentage of parents who read to them every night, it is less than 40 percent so less than 2 out of 5 babies get read to every day."
This assessment shows that Utah is a mixed bag in terms of infant support, but it gives Utah policymakers an opportunity to improve. According to Cole, Utah falls behind other states in policies supporting working families and providing access to affordable childcare.
"Overall Utah does fall in the bottom half of states compared to other states nationally."