A Portrait of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families

Publication Date: August 23, 2018
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Introduction

Research Questions

  1. Describes the population of AI/AN young children and their families, including socioeconomic status, household employment, and highest household educational attainment.
  2. Estimates the need for early childhood and health services, including early care and education attendance and health care coverage of AI/AN young children and their families, by examining the services that families receive.

There is little national data about the need for early childhood and health services for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children. This brief summarizes existing data to create a national picture of the AI/AN population of young children and their families, and their access to and participation in early childhood services using the 2010–2014 American Community Survey.

Purpose

The American Indian and Alaska Native Early Childhood Needs Assessment project was initiated in 2015 to develop three designs for future studies to inform a national early childhood needs assessment for AI/AN children. The designs aim to (1) describe AI/AN children under 5 (not yet in kindergarten; hereafter referred to as “AI/AN young children”) and their families, (2) explore early childhood services organization and delivery for AI/AN children, and (3) assess communities’ capacity for conducting their own needs assessments. This brief summarizes findings from the implementation of the first design, which used existing data to create a national picture of the AI/AN population of young children and their families, and their access to and participation in early childhood services using the 2010-2014 American Community Survey.

Key Findings and Highlights

The main findings from the ACS analyses are:

  • There are approximately 451,000 AI/AN young children in the United States.
  • Almost half of AI/AN young children live with both parents.
  • Almost one-third of AI/AN young children live in households below the federal poverty line (FPL).
  • Almost three-quarters of AI/AN young children live in households where at least one household member has some college education or higher.
  • Almost all AI/AN young children have at least one household member working either full or part time.
  • About one-fifth of AI/AN young children attended nursery or preschool in the past three months.
  • Almost one-third of AI/AN young children are enrolled in a health insurance program through a parent’s employer or union, and almost 60 percent are enrolled in health insurance through Medicaid or any kind of medical assistance plan.
  • Almost half of AI/AN young children lived with a parent who purchased health insurance through an employer or union, and about one-third lived with a parent who was enrolled in health insurance through Medicaid or any kind of medical assistance plan.

Methods

This study used the 2010–2014 Five-Year American Community Survey (ACS), which is a nationally representative sample of households in the United States. The ACS is conducted annually and samples approximately one percent of the U.S. population. Because the ACS does not oversample for AI/AN individuals, we used data from across five years to obtain a larger sample and thus more precise estimates.

The analytic sample for this brief includes the target AI/AN children (ages 0 through 5, not yet in kindergarten) and all his/her household members. AI/AN children include those who are either AI/AN alone or AI/AN in combination with other race/ethnicities. Parents or other persons living in the household may or may not be AI/AN.

For some variables, we report characteristics at the household level (e.g., poverty status, employment, education). Households may contain not only parents and children, but also related individuals (such as grandparents and aunts/uncles) and unrelated individuals (such as friends and boarders). Appropriate household- and person-weights were applied to all estimates.

Citation

Barofsky, M. Y., Chien, N., Malone, L., Bernstein, S, & Mumma, K. (July, 2018). A Portrait of American Indian and Alaska Native Children and Families. Brief prepared for the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

ACS:
American Community Survey
AI/AN:
American Indian/Alaska Native
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