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.”
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.
“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.”