Capitol Update: Wins and misses on behalf of kids at the Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado General Assembly wrapped up its 2017 Regular Session last week and we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of legislative wins and misses on behalf of Colorado kids. Click here to read our 2017 Legislative Impacts for a concise summary of new laws affecting kids.

Yesterday, Gov. John Hickenlooper was joined by champions for reducing early childhood discipline disparities for the signing of HB 17-1211. Sponsored by Rep. James Coleman and Sen. Kevin Priola, the bipartisan law sets up a grant program for schools to implement professional development strategies to promote alternatives to early childhood suspension and expulsion from preschool through third grade. The program must still be funded through gifts, grants or donations.

hb1211

Posted in Early Childhood, KidsFlash |


Grave impact of federal health care policy decisions on children comes into focus

Following the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, the U.S. Senate is now in the process of bringing its version of a proposal to a vote in the Senate. The provisions of the House bill would have devastating impacts on health insurance coverage and access to care for Colorado kids.

Approximately half of all kids in Colorado are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP, known as Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in Colorado), for at least part of the year. Medicaid covers the vast majority of kids covered by these two programs—and it covers both those whose families have the lowest incomes, and those with the greatest health care needs. Its financing structure also allows the program to expand coverage quickly in the event of a natural disaster or economic recession. The bill passed by the House would cut $800 billion in federal funding for Medicaid and cap the entire Medicaid program, shifting costs to states. There is no way to impose these cuts on the Medicaid program without impacting coverage for kids in Colorado who need it most.

CHP+ is a critical source of health coverage for kids whose families earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford private health insurance and it has worked together with Medicaid to help Colorado’s percent of uninsured kids decline to 4.2 percent in 2015. Federal funding for CHP+ runs out on Sept. 30 and Congress has yet to act to extend it.

Colorado’s significant progress in reducing the uninsured rate for kids is under threat, from the passage of the AHCA in the House, the proposed cuts to Medicaid, and the looming end of financing for CHP+.

In the past week, several national newspapers have written about the significant hit to children’s coverage that would come if the AHCA were to pass and if financing for CHIP is not extended. The long-term consequences of adding barriers to health for kids in poverty are significant. Read more in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Atlantic.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash, Legislative |


Bill Jaeger named to Aspen Institute fellowship

The Aspen Institute this week announced that Bill Jaeger, our Vice President of Early Childhood Education Initiatives, will be among 20 Colorado leaders to join the inaugural class of the Colorado Children and Families Health and Human Services Fellowship. The Fellowship invests in visionary leaders committed to making Colorado the best place to have a child and sustain a healthy, thriving family.

The Colorado Children and Families Fellowship builds on the best of the Aspen Institute’s leadership tradition. Fellows work with other leaders; participate in convenings and platforms; tap powerful networks of social justice; and carry out action plans that advance their work on behalf of children and families. The Fellowship is made possible through the generous support of the Ben and Lucy Ana Fund of the Walton Family Foundation. Read more about the fellowship and the other leaders in the first class.

Posted in KidsFlash, Outreach |


Children and civil rights advocates object to proposed removal of survey item in national survey of children’s health

We’ve joined a coalition of advocates objecting to a survey change that could make it harder to gather data related to school discipline in the early childhood years. Last week, the Colorado Children’s Campaign joined advocates who are concerned about the removal of a survey item on the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), which assesses incidences of preschools suspensions and expulsions for children birth to age 5.

The survey, collected once every four years, provides important information about children’s health and well-being. The National Black Child Development Institute, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Center for Law and Social Policy, and the National Women’s Law Center worked together on a coordinated response to raise concerns about the removal of this question.

NSCH assesses a variety of topics ranging from access and use of health care services to early childhood information. The survey estimates national and state-level prevalence for a variety of physical, emotional, and behavioral child health indicators within the context of the child’s family neighborhood environment. Additionally, this data generates information that helps guide the work of policymakers, advocates and researchers.

The removal of the survey item regarding suspensions and expulsions of young children would mean the loss of valuable data that illuminates the important role of parents in addressing this critical issue. Bill Jaeger, our Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives, submitted comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to express the necessity of the inclusion of the data collection. Read his letter to Dominic Mancini here.

Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash |


Get to Know Us: Rob Sherow

robRob Sherow is the Design Coordinator for the Colorado Children’s Campaign and our longest-serving employee. He is responsible for the creative design and technical production of the Campaign’s publications and marketing materials, as well as printing all our materials—including the interminable KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report—at his print shop, Superior Printing and Graphics. When he is not working, you can typically find him at a local venue enjoying live music or a sporting event. After visiting Colorado during college for Spring Break he now finds himself to be a Colorado resident for more than 20 years and still loves the 300+ days of sunshine in this beautiful state. Read more about Rob and his favorite thing about living in Colorado on our website.

Posted in KidsFlash, Outreach |


Fast Fact: May 19, 2017

The number of Colorado students enrolled in an online education program increased to 19,581 students in 2016-2017, up from 18,664 in 2015-2016. Enrollment in online education programs has increased by more than 400 percent since the 2003-2004 school year. To find online education enrollment in your county or school district, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Posted in Fast Facts |


LEGISLATIVE IMPACTS 2017

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is the leading voice for kids at the Colorado State Capitol and in communities across the state. Since 1985 we’ve worked with policymakers from every corner of the state and every political perspective to improve the well-being of Colorado kids. We are pleased to see bipartisan support this year in many areas impacting children’s lives.

NEW PROGRESS FOR KIDS

Charter School Funding Equity: HB 17-1375 (Pettersen & Sias/Williams & Hill) requires school districts to either create a plan outlining how they will spend local tax revenues equitably or to share 95 percent of tax revenues with all schools in the district, regardless of school governance type.

Early Learning Strategies in Education Accountability: SB 17-103 (Merrifield/Pettersen) adds a focus on early learning and preschool through third grade strategies for schools and districts that are struggling to ensure all children are on track for success.

Child Care Expenses Tax Credit: HB 17-1002 (Pettersen & Exum/Kefalas & Martinez Humenik) reauthorizes Colorado’s expiring refundable tax credit for child care expenses for working families for another three years. This successful credit helps more than 35,000 Coloradans offset their child care expenses by more than $6 million each year so they can work.

Behavioral Health Support for Young Students: SB 17-068 (Todd/Singer) expands eligibility for the School Behavioral Health Professionals and Counselor Corps grant programs to include elementary schools and adds support for 150 more health professionals.

The Early Childhood Leadership Commission: HB 17-1106 (Pettersen & Wilson/Martinez Humenik & Todd) continues the ECLC, our statewide coordinating body for early childhood initiatives, for another six years.

Alternative Educator Licensure for Early Childhood Educators: HB 17-1332 (Bridges & Wilson/Fenberg & Smallwood) removes a statutory barrier that had precluded early childhood educators working in community-based early learning settings from enrolling in alternative teacher licensure programs.

Language Choice in Early Literacy Assessments: HB 17-1160 (Hamner & Wilson/Fields & Priola) creates additional flexibility for English Language Learners in kindergarten through third grade so that they can take reading assessments in their native language while still developing proficiency in English.

Addressing Teacher Shortages: HB 17-1003 (McLachlan/Coram) requires the creation of a strategic plan to address teacher shortages, including early childhood educators.

School Finance Planning: HB 17-1340 (Lundeen & Garnett/Moreno & Hill) establishes an interim legislative committee on school finance and creates opportunities to improve equity and adequacy in how the state funds students in preschool through 12th grade.

Professional Development to Address Early Childhood Suspension & Expulsion: HB 17-1211 (Coleman/Priola) establishes a grant program that, if funded, will allow schools to implement professional development strategies to promote alternatives to early childhood suspension and expulsion from preschool through third grade.

Seal of Biliteracy: SB 17-123 (Priola & Zenzinger/Hamner & Wilson) establishes requirements by which high school students may earn a diploma endorsement in biliteracy if they demonstrate proficiency in English and at least one foreign language.

Access to Contraception: HB 17-1186 (Pettersen & Landgraf/Coram) provides access to a 12-month supply of prescription contraceptives, which reduces unintended pregnancies.

Modern Technology Education In Public Schools:  HB17-1184 (Duran/Grantham) directs the State Board of Education to incorporate skills relating to information and communications technologies into the 10 content areas during the upcoming state academic standards review.

Budget Wins:

  • An increase of $9.7 million for the Department of Education to expand access to school-based behavioral health professionals.
  • An increase of $2.5 million for the Department of Human Services to expand access to quality child care via the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program.
  • An increase of $572,000 to serve 1,300 families with children birth to age 3 in the evidence-based Healthy Steps for Young Children home visitation program.
  • An increase of $45,000 to expand access to pregnancy-related depression screening during pediatric well-child check-ups.
  • Maintaining $775,000 in funding for the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, an anonymous and voluntary survey administered to students in grades 6-12 that produces the state’s most reliable source of information on student health behavior.
  • An increase of $261.8 million in additional K-12 financing, including a requirement that the “negative factor” (renamed the “budget stabilization factor” in statute) be held constant at $828.3 million next year.
  • Maintaining funding for the Colorado Family Planning Program, including access to long-acting reversible contraceptives.

PROTECTING PROGRESS

Student Exemption from Immunization Requirements: SB 17-250 (Neville & Marble/Neville & Lebsock) was successfully defeated. It would have loosened the process for medical and non-medical exemptions from immunization requirements for children enrolling in school or child care.

Maintaining Innovations in Education: SB 17-067 (Merrifield), if it had passed, would have eliminated the use of objective student achievement data in our educator evaluation system. HB 17-1062, HB 17-1117, and SB 17-101 would have eliminated or made optional key statewide assessments that provide student growth information.

Maintaining the Colorado Health Insurance Marketplace: SB17-003 (Smallwood/Neville) was defeated, but would have repealed the bipartisan state law that established Connect for Health Colorado, our state-run insurance Marketplace, limiting Colorado’s flexibility to innovate and design our own state solution for customers to shop for health plans and receive tax credits and subsidies to help them afford those plans.

Maintaining Financial Protections in Medicaid: SB17-004 (Tate/Wist), if passed, would have allowed medical providers who are not enrolled in the Medicaid program to charge Medicaid clients for services that would otherwise be paid for by Medicaid, creating financial strain and stress for families that is bad for kids’ healthy development.

Medicaid Delivery & Payment Initiatives: HB 17-1353 (Young/Lundberg) codifies the Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC), the primary Medicaid delivery system in Colorado, and Department of Health Care Policy and Financing’s work to continue to integrate physical and behavioral health care and provide access to a medical home through the ACC.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Addressing Early Childhood Suspension and Expulsion: HB 17-1210 (Lontine & Buckner/Priola & Fields) would have established more developmentally appropriate standards for out-of-school suspension and expulsion of young children in public school settings.

Funding for Full-Day Kindergarten: HB 17-1042 (Wilson) would have increased funding for children enrolled in full-day kindergarten programs who are currently only funded for a little more than a half-day.

A Vision for Education in Colorado: HB 17-1287 (Hamner & Rankin/Priola & Kerr) would have laid out a process for establishing a coherent vision for Colorado’s P-12 public education system.

Mother-Baby Unit: The final state budget failed to include funding for a mother-baby unit within the Department of Corrections that would have allowed infants and toddlers to bond with new mothers facing incarceration.

Two Generation Pilot Program: The final state budget did not include a proposed “Two Generations Reaching Opportunity” pilot program to combine evidence-based home visiting outreach with comprehensive services for adults that lead to economic self-sufficiency.

School Finance and Taxpayer Equality: Joint Budget Committee staff presented recommendations to legislators that would have addressed Colorado’s uneven property tax system and improved the adequacy of K-12 funding by referring a statewide measure to voters to require a more consistent level of local investment in education through local property taxes

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


Protected: It’s About Kids Annual Retreat Guest Guide

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Posted in Fast Facts |


Capitol Update: Day 120 on the books at the State Capitol

CapitolupdateclaenderThe 2017 session of the Colorado General Assembly wrapped up this week with several big bills impacting kids passing just before the deadline. We’ll have a full summary of legislative wins and misses on behalf of kids next week. In the meantime, read below about the bills passed this week and watch a fun video created by Sen. Rhonda Fields on the last day—featuring the final page of our KIDS COUNT-Down Calendar.

Click here to read our full analysis of bills passed this week. Here are few highlights:

SB17-267 (Sonnenberg & Guzman/ K. Becker & J. Becker) Sustainability of Rural Colorado

This bill includes provisions that: 1) convert the Hospital Provider Fee into an enterprise fund; 2) lower the cap on the amount of revenue the state can collect before revenue must be returned to taxpayers in the form of rebates; 3) provide additional funds to rural school districts; and 4) require each state government agency to propose a smaller budget next year. Read more about the bill’s passage, other policy changes and what it would do for rural Colorado here

HB 17-1002 (Pettersen & Exum/Kefalas) Renewing the Child Care Tax Credit for Low Income Families

Continuing this highly successful tax strategy that supports families’ access to child care so that they can work is vital. Read more about the bill and its bipartisan passage out of the House and Senate here.

HB17-1375 (Pettersen & Sias) Distributing Mill Levy Override Revenue to Schools

The bill requires school districts that collect local revenue from mill levies to develop a plan to share funds equally, or to distribute 95 percent of the per pupil amount to innovation or charter schools in the district beginning in the 2019-20 budget year. The bill passed with bipartisan support and now awaits the governor’s signature. Read more here.

Be sure to stay tuned for the Children’s Campaign’s 2017 legislative impacts in KidsFlash next week!

 

Posted in KidsFlash, Legislative |


SB17-267 (Sonnenberg & Guzman/Becker K. & Becker J.) Sustainability of Rural Colorado

Summary: This bill includes provisions that: 1) convert the Hospital Provider Fee into an enterprise fund; 2) lower the cap on the amount of revenue the state can collect before revenue must be returned to taxpayers in the form of rebates; 3) provide additional funds to rural school districts; and 4) require each state government agency to propose a smaller budget next year.

Position: The Children’s Campaign strongly supports elements of this bill, but has significant concerns about other components. The bill will provide an additional $30 million in funding to rural school districts in year one and all K-12 schools in the following few years. Converting the Hospital Provider Fee into an enterprise will avoid significant cuts to hospitals that were required to balance the state budget in 2017-18. The Hospital Provider Fee allows the state to leverage additional federal dollars for key health program improvements and expansions, including the ability to provide kids with 12 months of continuous eligibility for Medicaid, and to provide coverage for kids and pregnant women in CHP+ up to 250 percent of the poverty line. Establishing the fee as an enterprise fund will help to protect these coverage expansions. We are excited about both of these provisions. However, the bill also lowers the cap on the amount of revenue the state can collect before revenue must be returned to taxpayers in an amount greater than the Hospital Provider Fee, meaning that the legislature could have to continue to make cuts to balance the state budget rather than work to prioritize additional state resources to meet critical needs in the state. The bill also requires state government agencies to submit budget requests next year that are at least two percent lower than budget requests for 2017-18, which could further restrict resources to meet the needs of the state in early childhood, health, education, and other areas. The bill also includes increases to certain categories of copays for Medicaid clients.

Current Status: The bill passed the House on a vote of 49-16 and now heads to the governor’s desk for signature

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


 

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