DC’s Young Child Population is Growing. Are Neighborhoods Ready for Them?

Part 1 of 3 in a series about DC’s young child population

The number of young children under the age of five is increasing in DC, a finding highlighted in our new DC KIDS COUNT data snapshot. Today more than 36,000 young children are growing up in DC neighborhoods – playing on city playgrounds, attending child care centers and preparing for school in pre-kindergarten classes. The number of young children in DC has increased by 11% since 2000, which is especially notable because the total number of children (under age 18) has decreased by 8% over the same time period. With a rising birth rate and expanding overall city population, we expect the number of young children to continue to increase in future years.
The greatest numbers of young children currently live in Wards 4, 7 and 8. More than 6,500 young children – 20 percent of all DC children under five – live in Ward 8 alone. The population density of young children varies across DC neighborhoods, from 1% of all residents in the West End and Foggy Bottom areas, to more than 10% of residents in the Douglas/Shipley Terrace neighborhood. Meanwhile, neighborhoods in Wards 2, 3, 4 and 6 are experiencing the most growth in numbers of young children. Our next blog post in this series will explore our findings about young children by neighborhood and ward.

Our city has an incredible opportunity to prepare all of our young children for healthy, productive lives. The city must consider both where most children live now as well as where the young child population is growing and creating a higher demand for services. We need to make sure that every DC neighborhood has the assets and opportunities to support young children – with early learning opportunities, as well as community resources such as safe playgrounds and accessible recreation facilities.

We want our new data snapshot to spark and inform conversations about city and neighborhood are planning for our young children. We encourage you to look at the data and tell us what the changes in the young child population means for your neighborhood and ward.

Watch for our next blogs in this series about DC’s under age five population:

- Young Children by Neighborhood and Ward
- The Undercount of Young Children in the Census

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