Colorado Poll: Voters Want More State and Federal Investment in Early Childhood Education

graph3The First Five Years Fund’s newest state poll in Colorado shows that even in the midst of a divisive election year, voters are united in their support of quality early learning. Voters strongly support a range of state investments in early childhood education, including providing voluntary coaching and education for new parents; expanding access to Colorado’s voluntary early learning classes throughout the state; and, increasing wages to attract and retain high-quality early education teachers. Additionally, more than two-thirds support a federal plan to help states and local communities provide better early childhood education.

Eight out of 10 Colorado voters say ensuring children get a strong start in life through quality early childhood education is important to them–ranking this far ahead of fixing the immigration system, reducing the tax burden on families and providing low- or no-cost college. It’s clear that voter support for early childhood education is strong—and it’s time for policymakers to work to provide solutions.

Posted in Early Childhood, KidsFlash |


Our Position on ColoradoCare

Our Board of Directors voted this week to oppose Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare. Colorado voters will consider the measure in November. While providing a noble vision for Colorado’s health care system, ColoradoCare lacks the details necessary to provide a reasonable chance of success at improving health care for Colorado’s kids. The amendment insufficiently contemplates the details of the federal waiver process, does not address interaction with the most common type of employer-sponsored health coverage, and lacks financial and political stability. Click here to read our analysis of the measure. You can also read our positions on other 2016 ballot measures on our website.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


Save the Date: Speak Up for Kids is March 22, 2017

graph2Mark your calendar for 2017 Speak Up for Kids Day at the Capitol, which will be held on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1370 Grant Street, Denver. Presented by Colorado Children’s Campaign, Clayton Early Learning and Children’s Hospital Colorado, Speak Up for Kids brings together child advocates from across Colorado to learn about effective advocacy and policy issues facing the Colorado legislature and to put their skills into action by speaking up with legislators at the Colorado State Capitol.  Since its inception in 2012, Speak Up for Kids has trained nearly 500 people who care about Colorado kids to make their voices heard on important policy issues that affect kids and families. Stay tuned for information about how your organization can support Speak Up for Kids’ success, how to register and additional details.

Posted in KidsFlash, Outreach |


Rising Health Care Costs Driving Significant Premium Increase in Colorado

Rising health insurance costs are again driving up the cost of health insurance premiums for people who buy their own individual health insurance around the state. These increases impact only the individual market (plans not from an employer), which makes up about 7.7 percent of the population who have health insurance in the state. New rates approved this week by the Colorado Division of Insurance show that in this market, many areas in Colorado will face higher premiums, but the wallets of consumers with incomes below 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($80,640 for a family of 3) will be protected by federal tax credits.

The average consumer who currently receives tax credits for their 2016 insurance—and who will enroll in the same plan for 2017—will see an average decrease of 11 percent for a subsidized premium, even though the actual premiums are increasing. Consumers are also able to compare plans on the Connect for Health Colorado website. A lower-cost plan could reduce a subsidized premium even more, up to 29 percent on average. Increases in the small-group market (plans offered by small employers) are much lower – averaging only 2.1 percent.

The increase in premiums this year is driven by two factors. First, two programs established under the Affordable Care Act to help limit insurer risk, and therefore premium increases, in the individual market, expired this year. Second, premiums are responsive to the national increase in health care costs, which government agencies have little power to regulate. However, insurers do have some tools available to help control costs, including negotiating prices for health services and prescription drugs, and encouraging the use of high-value health services, like vaccines, smoking cessation, and important preventive health screenings, such as post-partum depression screening.

The rising premium prices vary significantly across Colorado. The mountain region, which has seen some of the highest rates in the nation in previous years, will face an increase of 28 percent on average. Counties in the San Luis Valley will see an increase of 39 percent, while residents in the Grand Junction area will see premium costs increase 37 percent. The Colorado Health Institute has analyzed the price increases by region. Read CHI’s report here.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


2016 CMAS Growth Results Show Student Learning over Time

Colorado parents and educators this week had a first peek at school and district growth scores as the the Colorado Department of Education released median growth percentiles from the 2016 Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments in English language arts and math. Because growth scores require two years of data, this is the first time these results have been released since the new CMAS assessments were introduced in 2015. No individual student scores have yet been released.

Along with achievement results released earlier this month, growth scores provide important information about average student academic progress. Achievement results show whether students reached a standard of proficiency at one point in time—such as the percent of students who met or exceeded grade level expectations on an annual assessment. On the other hand, growth reports show how much, on average, students’ performance changed from one year to the next. Taken together with achievement results, growth levels are an important way to help understand which schools are helping their students learn, no matter how high or low their test scores were when they started.

A student’s individual growth percentile (ranging from 1 to 99) indicates how that student’s performance changed over time, relative to other students who scored similarly on state assessments in the past. For example, a student in the 65th growth percentile showed as much or more growth than 65 percent of students who scored similarly on last year’s CMAS. School and district growth rates are determined by the median growth percentile of all students in that school or district.

The state’s median growth percentile is always about 50. A growth percentile score higher than 50 indicates that, on average, a group of students progressed at a faster rate than their peers. A percentile score below 50 means a group’s scores grew more slowly than their peers, on average.

Growth gaps between subgroups of students remain and, in some cases, appear to have widened relative to previous years. In particular, students with disabilities (those with individualized education plans) progressed at a slower rate than their peers without disabilities. Students of color and those from lower-income families also experienced less growth than their white, more affluent peers.

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The disparity in growth is concerning—not only have these groups historically scored lower on the assessments than their peers, they also are not showing comparable year-to-year growth in performance. Without additional support and resources, many students risk falling further behind each year, rather than making strides to catch up to their peers.

To find your median growth percentiles for your school or district, please visit CDE’s interactive growth visualization or Chalkbeat’s growth data release.

Posted in K-12 Education, KidsFlash |


ICYMI: Announcing our Annual Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Author and Activist Wes Moore

annualmoorePotential is universal; opportunity is not. From his work with youth in the juvenile justice system to the high school graduates he serves through BridgeEDU, from his college transition program for under-resourced students to his New York Times best-selling books, Wes Moore has seen this aphorism play out in real lives. He was raised by a single mom in a city where the sound of gunshots in his neighborhood was routine. Fortunately a strong support network steered him to graduate with honors, serve in the U.S. Army, work on Wall Street and become a White House Fellow for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. While Wes reached great heights, another Wes Moore, raised in the same neighborhood—at the same time—was sentenced to life in prison for murder.

Wes Moore studied International Relations at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of the book, The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters, in which he examines the impact we make when our greatest joys overlap with the world’s greatest needs. He is also the author of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, an examination of how a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

Join us Dec. 7 for an inspiring discussion as Wes Moore challenges us to consider the question: How do we think differently about the lives of others, and how do we help people think differently about their own lives? Save the date on your calendar and stay tuned to KidsFlash for ticket information!

Posted in Development, KidsFlash |


Fast Fact- September 23, 22016

In 2015, Colorado’s teen suicide rate rose sharply to 20.1 per 100,000 teens ages 15-19, marking the highest recorded rate since these data became available in 1999. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, female teens are more likely to seriously consider or attempt suicide than their male peers. However, the number of deaths by suicide is far greater for male teens—possibly related to the fact that females are more likely to identify and seek treatment for mental health problems than males. To find teen suicide rates for your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Posted in Fast Facts, KidsFlash |


Poverty Rates and Uninsured Rates for Colorado Children Tick Downward in 2015

Small declines in the poverty rates among black and Latino children in Colorado contributed to a slight overall drop in the child poverty rate statewide, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Nationally, child poverty fell from 21.7 percent in 2014 to 20.7 percent in 2015.

The child poverty rate for all Colorado children fell from 15.4 percent in 2014 to 14.7 percent in 2015, which was not a statistically significant change. The poverty rate among black children fell from 31 percent in 2014 to 29 percent in 2015, while the Hispanic child poverty rate in Colorado fell from 27 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2015. Despite these declines, black and Hispanic children remain significantly more likely to experience poverty than white children due to a long history of structural barriers to opportunity for children and families of color.

“These trends are encouraging, but it’s also important to remember that the gap in poverty rates between children of color and their white peers remains very large in Colorado,” said Sarah Hughes, Director of Research for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “As Colorado’s economy continues to grow, it’s critical that we ensure kids and families of all backgrounds are benefiting from our state’s prosperity.”

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Along with the decline in child poverty rates came an increase in Colorado’s median household income. In 2015, the median household income in Colorado was $63,909, up from $61,351 in 2014—a statistically significant change.

Health insurance coverage among Colorado children continued to be a bright spot. In 2015, the uninsured rate for Colorado kids under 18 fell to 4.2 percent, down from 5.6 percent. This is a statistically significant change, and represents an additional 17,600 children with health coverage. Nationally, the uninsured rate for kids fell to 4.8 percent from 6.0 percent.

Trends in health coverage varied by race/ethnicity and by income:

  • The uninsured rate for Hispanic/Latino children dropped to 6 percent, down from 10 percent in 2014—a statistically significant change. This marks a significant improvement since 2009, when 19 percent of Hispanic/Latino children lacked health coverage.
  • Uninsured rates also declined for non-Hispanic white children. In 2015, 3 percent of white children were uninsured, down from 4 percent the previous year.
  • The uninsured rate for children in poverty dropped to 4.3 percent in 2015, down from 7.1 percent the previous year. Children whose families earn between 100 percent and 150 percent of the federal poverty level were most likely to lack health coverage, with an uninsured rate of 8 percent. Those whose family incomes were above 400 percent of the federal poverty level were least likely to be uninsured.

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“It’s that clear that strong public policies like the Affordable Care Act and Colorado’s own efforts to improve coverage are driving this great news,” said Erin Miller, Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “That being said, covering the remaining 4.2 percent of Colorado kids who still lack coverage may be our hardest challenge yet. They are most in need of the financial security and access to health services that insurance coverage provides and face barriers that haven’t been removed by our past efforts.”

Posted in Child Health, Early Childhood, K-12 Education, KidsFlash, Research |


Announcing our Annual Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Author and Activist Wes Moore

annualmoorePotential is universal; opportunity is not. From his work with youth in the juvenile justice system to the high school graduates he serves through BridgeEDU, from his college transition program for under-resourced students to his New York Times best-selling books, Wes Moore has seen this aphorism play out in real lives. He was raised by a single mom in a city where the sound of gunshots in his neighborhood was routine. Fortunately a strong support network steered him to graduate with honors, serve in the U.S. Army, work on Wall Street and become a White House Fellow for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. While Wes reached great heights, another Wes Moore, raised in the same neighborhood—at the same time—was sentenced to life in prison for murder.

Wes Moore studied International Relations at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of the book, The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters, in which he examines the impact we make when our greatest joys overlap with the world’s greatest needs. He is also the author of The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, an examination of how a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

Join us Dec. 7 for an inspiring discussion as Wes Moore challenges us to consider the question: How do we think differently about the lives of others, and how do we help people think differently about their own lives? Save the date on your calendar and stay tuned to KidsFlash for ticket information!

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Posted in Development, KidsFlash | Tagged |


LARC4CO Coalition selected as 2016 recipient of the Award for Excellence in Policy

larc4co1The Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) Coalition was selected as the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Policy  at the 2016 Public Health in the Rockies Conference in Breckenridge this week.

The coalition was recognized for its effort to secure increased funding in the state budget to continue a privately-funded program to eliminate barriers women face in choosing and using the birth control method that works best for them. From 2009 to 2014, Colorado made more progress than any other state in reducing teen pregnancies using private funds. A key factor in this progress has been better access to the most effective methods of contraception – hormonal implants and IUDs. With private funding coming to an end, the state sought a dedicated source of public funding to continue these cost-effective efforts to improve people’s lives.

In May 2016, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law a budget that included a $2.5 million increase in the state family planning budget, allowing for improved access to family planning services and the most effective methods of birth control to continue. It is the first increase of this size in the program’s 45-year history. The LARC4CO Coalition, made up of advocates of many stripes, led the  effort to make the case for increased investment and was successful in securing  bipartisan support for the increase.larc4co2

Read here more about the 2016 CPHA Awards here, and learn more about LARC here.

Posted in Child Health, KidsFlash |


 

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