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State of Durham County’s Young Children Unveiled in Comprehensive Report

County and Duke Collaboration Yields Key Data About Youth Ages 0-8

Post Date:04/20/2017 12:14 AM

Durham, NC — Depending on the statistical report analyzed, varied results will surface regarding the next generation of America’s children. To gain insight about where Durham’s children stand and what may lie ahead of them, the State of Durham County’s Young Children Task Force was created to gather key information about early childhood experiences, health and learning. This Friday, April 21, 2017, the Task Force will be joined by a group of community leaders and the media to unveil the data collected and condensed into the 2017 State of Durham County’s Young Children report. 


The Task Force, birthed from a partnership between Durham County Government and the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, was formed in 2016 and swiftly proceeded with researching, leading discussions and compiling data on Durham’s children ages birth to eight. The final report was created with hopes to not only identify predictors of the future of Durham’s youth, but to serve as a tool to shape policy and community choices about the future of their children.


"I hope that the information in this report helps to mobilize our community to provide a stronger foundation for all children in their early years so that more children are prepared to succeed in school and in life,” said Commissioner Ellen Reckhow who served as Co-Chair of the State of Durham County’s Young Children Task Force.

The report reveals the significant differences and disparities between segments of the overall population based on race and ethnicity and includes five recommendations for the community regarding the improvement of the lives of Durham’s young children. The recommendations are broken down into the five sections/examination areas of adverse childhood experiences, birth and maternal health, early childhood, kindergarten to grade 3, and data.


Adverse Childhood Experiences

Exposure to stressful or traumatic events such as abuse or neglect in the early stages of life can impact outcomes for children. These events known as adverse childhood experiences can be difficult to track and the number of children affected. Some statistical information gathered in the State of Durham County’s Children indicates the need for a holistic approach and to provide services that focus on the county’s most vulnerable children. It was estimated that in 2015, 5 percent of Durham’s young children were the subject of a maltreatment report and 16 percent lived in a home where housing costs exceeded 50 percent of income.


Birth and Maternal Health

Care sought by pregnant mothers is critical to the overall health of the mother, baby, and family through each stage of pregnancy. According to the State of Durham County’s Children, nearly a third of babies in 2015 were born to mothers who did not receive prenatal care in their first trimester.


Early Childhood

Providing high-quality educational opportunities through early childhood programming is consistently shown to have long-term benefits for Durham’s children. The State of Durham County’s Young Children reiterates the need for affordable child care that will prepare children to enter school. According to the report the average cost of child care in Durham greatly exceeds the federal benchmark for 7 percent of a family’s income.


Kindergarten to Grade 3

The ability to read by the end of grade three is a key educational benchmark. The report reinforced the correlation between quality early childhood care and positive outcomes for Durham’s young children. The State of Durham County’s Children Report notes that 47 percent of Durham third graders in public and charter schools are reading at grade level, 12 percentage points lower than the state average.



To strategically plan for the future of Durham’s children, the collection and analysis of data is necessary. This continuous research and reporting will help better formulate interventions and predict trajectories regarding the health and well-being for young children.


The recommendations include:


  1. Provide trauma-in-formed services in a systemic way to build resiliency in young children.  These services include screening for adverse childhood experiences and training parents and school personnel to address trauma in children so that they can reach their full potential.
  2. To ensure that Durham County infants enter the world healthy, increase efforts to educate the community about preconception and prenatal services available in Durham. Outreach efforts should focus in particular on the Hispanic and black communities.
  3. Improve the availability, affordability and quality of early child care and dedication in Durham, with the goal of improving all children’s preparedness for kindergarten.
  4. Expand educational and support services in grades kindergarten through third so Durham’s children meet or exceed the state average for reading and math proficiency.
  5. Improve data collection across agencies and age groups so that community stakeholders can continue to identify the area of greatest need and to track progress in these areas that have been identified as a focus. Better data tracking will also determine if efforts to improve the quality of life for Durham County’s young children are successful.


According to Director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy Kenneth Dodge "Commissioner Reckhow is the driving force behind this effort. With these findings, our community can identify our children's needs so that we can plan practices and policies to promote their healthy development." Dodge also served at co-chair of the State of Durham County’s Young Children.

To view the complete report, visit For additional questions about the report or its findings, email





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