Thank you to everyone who joined us at our release event at the Capitol this week—we appreciate your support.
KIDS COUNT in Colorado! is a bit different this year. The first thing you might notice is all of the questions. For those of you accustomed to picking up this report to find answers, this change—and many others in the following pages—might be a surprise.
The questions you’ll see throughout this report are similar to the questions we posed to Coloradans across the state as we sought answers to a question on our minds for years: What is driving the disparities we see between children of color and their White peers?
Last year in this report, we examined disparities of all kinds to better tell the story of how all children, no matter their background, are doing. By digging into the data, we can see the imbalances for children of color and families living in poverty. But that didn’t tell us the whole story. Only Coloradans, in their own voices, could do that. So we took the data into communities and listened.
“How can you really understand or do anything if you don’t really understand the history?” an Alamosa resident asked.
Behind every data point is policy and practice that impacts all children, and many of these policies and practices have disproportionately created barriers to opportunity for children and families of color. Communities and families of color have deep knowledge of how these barriers have impacted their children, their ancestors and themselves.
We learned that so many of these barriers are caused by public policy—and they can be undone by public policy. Removing barriers for Coloradans who face the most obstacles to health and happiness in fact removes barriers for all of us. We all benefit from equity-focused policy change.
We also heard countless examples of resilience in the face of policy barriers. Stories of parents instilling in their children a strong sense of personal and cultural history. Communities coming together to provide culturally responsive health care. And elders who take the time to share their knowledge and wisdom with kids in their communities. Imagine what Colorado could be if our public policies build on these strengths to create opportunities for all kids.
The findings in these pages—data paired with voices—are complex and interwoven. But don’t let that scare you away. This is a time to lean into discomfort. To let our values guide us. This is a time to be bold about what we want for our children and know that everything we need to create opportunities for them, we have.
I invite you to ponder a few more questions while you dig into the report: What is our responsibility to Colorado children? If some of our kids aren’t doing well, what does that say about us as a state? Should we be proud of a Colorado in which only some children can truly aim high?
I’d love to hear what answers you find.