The number of children living in the District is increasing. That’s good news for the city’s public schools, which have long been considered under-enrolled.

The conventional wisdom went that you got married, had kids and — if you could afford to — moved out of the District when they reached school age for public schools in the suburbs. That, however, appears to be slowly changing.

Ever since 2011, the increase of children living in the city has outpaced the growth of the adult population, according to data from District, Measured — a blog from the city’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer.

The city now has 6,000 more children under the age of 6 than it had in 1990. It still has 3,500 fewer school-age children than it had in 1990, but even that figure is moving along an upward trend.

So where are these children living? Data shows neighborhoods just east of Rock Creek Park, such as Columbia Heights and Petworth, saw the biggest jump in the population under 18. The Brightwood Park, Crestwood and Petworth cluster of neighborhoods added 2,000 children between 2010 and 2014 — the largest increase in the city.

District, Measured compared the American Community Survey five-year averages from 2006 to 2010 to the summary from 2010-2014 to compile this data.

The city’s Southeast neighborhoods have long had the highest population of children, and that hasn’t changed. Thirty percent of the residents in the Congress Heights, Bellevue and Washington Highlands cluster neighborhoods are children, according to the 2010 census. Thirty-four percent of residents are children in the Douglas and Shipley Terrace neighborhoods.

But these neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River collectively lost 2,654 children since 2010.

Neighborhoods along the northern border with Maryland posted the biggest losses, a trend that’s nothing new. The Deanwood, Burrville, Grant Park, Lincoln Heights and Fairmont Heights cluster, for example, had half the number of children in 2010 than it did in 1980.

Via District, Measured:

The population dynamics across neighborhoods provide yet another picture of gentrification and where we are most likely to find it. The city’s most expensive neighborhoods (when it comes to housing) are holding on to the school-age children but are not able to add young families. While east of the river continues to have the highest concentration of children, if trends continue, neighborhoods near the 16th Street and Georgia Avenue corridors could claim this distinction soon. Neighborhoods east of the river are adding younger children, but rapidly losing school-age children, and on the net losing families.


Here’s a breakdown of the neighborhood changes when looking at children under 6 versus school-aged children. The neighborhood cluster in Ward 7 that includes Deanwood, for example, is adding children under 6, which means in a few years, if these families stay, the neighborhood would have more school-aged children. District, Measured notes that when these young families move from their neighborhoods, they are likely moving out of the city and, due to housing prices, not relocating to other neighborhoods within District bounds. While Columbia Heights is adding young families, it does not appear to be able to hold on to families with older children. The cluster that holds Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant lost 574 children between the ages of 6 and 17. The same goes for the Brookland, Brentwood and Langdon cluster. See below: