Announcing KIDS COUNT in Colorado!: A Letter from Kelly Causey, President and CEO

kellykidscountThank you to everyone who joined us at our release event at the Capitol this week—we appreciate your support.

Dear friends,

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.

Posted in KidsFlash, Outreach |


Capitol updates: Teacher Preparation, School Finance, Child Care Quality Programs and more

capitol0303Each week of the 2017 session of the Colorado General Assembly we’ll bring you the latest news and analysis of legislation impacting the early development, health and education of Colorado kids. Click here for a full list of the legislation we’re tracking. Here are some highlights from this week:

HB17-1344 (Bridges & Pettersen/Priola &Todd) Innovative Teacher Preparation Pilot Programs

The bill would establish a series of pilot programs to test innovative ideas developed by a diverse coalition of K-12 and higher education stakeholders. These pilots would produce valuable information and data to help state leaders improve teacher preparation programs and address the teacher shortage crisis facing many parts of Colorado. Read more about the bill and the program it would create here.

HB17-1353 (Young/Lundberg) Medicaid Accountable Care Collaborative

The bill codifies the Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC), the primary Medicaid delivery system in Colorado. Sarah Barnes, our Senior Policy Analyst, testified in support of the bill. Read more about the bill’s next steps here.

Posted in KidsFlash, Legislative |


SB17-107 (Merrifield/McLachlan) Reward Access to Arts Education In Public Schools

Summary: The bill creates an additional performance indicator that measures the degree to which a public school or school district provides access to courses or educational programs in dance, drama and theater, music, and visual arts and directs the State Board of Education to adopt rules by which additional credit could be earned toward performance ratings based on the arts performance indicator. The bill repeals the authority to remove a school district’s or the institute’s accreditation based on performance under a priority improvement or turnaround plan.

Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign opposes this bill. We believe in the importance of arts in public schools. However, in our position on the Accountability Work Group that has been working to determine an additional indicator to incorporate in accountability frameworks, we have strongly supported other indicators, such as chronic absenteeism. Absenteeism is a powerful early predictor of student performance and is a valid and reliable measure that can also serve as a proxy for a school’s climate.

Current Status: The bill died on 2nd reading on the Senate floor

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1355 (Young/Lundberg) County Block Grant Money to Child Care Quality Programs

Summary: The bill expands uses of the county allocation for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program funding to allow counties to invest in specific child care quality initiatives.

Position: The Children’s Campaign’s appreciates the bill’s focus on 1) the need for quality child care, 2) the desire to address early childhood mental health issues, including early childhood suspension and expulsion, and 3) the recognition that current funding for quality improvement efforts in child care are inadequate to the need in communities throughout the state. We also support looking at a different funding source (TANF county block grant dollars) rather than Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) money, given the growing demand for child care subsidies among working families in the state who need child care to work as the economy improves. We also hope that, when implemented, that there is a focus on transparency over how these funds are spent. Having some way to know what was spent, for what purposes, and if it worked is important in being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and avoiding state or federal audit findings that could jeopardize our overall funding. As a state-supervised system, it is important to that the state be able to look across our 64 different county administered initiatives to be able to ensure compliance with law and regulation and to know that such investments are actually making a difference for children

Current Status: The bill passed the House Health Insurance, and Environment Committee unanimously and now heads to the House floor

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1353 (Young/Lundberg) Implement Medicaid Delivery & Payment Initiatives

Summary: The bill codifies the Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC), the primary Medicaid delivery system in Colorado.

Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports the bill and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing’s work to continue to deliver care in an efficient and effective manner through the ACC. The ACC supports the integration of physical and behavioral health care, which improves quality and access to care for kids, because behavioral health is a critical part of children’s healthy development and well-being. The ACC also supports access to a medical home, which helps ensure that kids receive the care they need, when they need it.

Current Status: The bill passed the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee on a vote of 7-6 and passed on a 2nd reading voice vote on the House floor. It now awaits a recorded vote in the House. Sarah Barnes, our Senior Policy Analyst, testified in support the bill.

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1344 (Bridges & Pettersen/Priola &Todd) Innovative Teacher Preparation Pilot Programs

Summary: The bill would establish a series of pilot programs to test innovative ideas developed by a diverse coalition of K-12 and higher education stakeholders. These pilots would produce valuable information and data to help state leaders improve teacher preparation programs and address the teacher shortage crisis facing many parts of Colorado.

Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports the bill. The bill requires the department of education and department of higher education to collaborate and develop strategies that will help train teachers in being more effective once they enter the classroom. We believe this is essential to support the efforts to recruit and retain a diverse teacher workforce.

Current Status: Introduced in the House and assigned to the House Education Committee

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1340 (Lundeen & Garnett) Legislative Interim Committee on School Finance

Summary: This bill creates a legislative interim committee to study the current school finance structure and to make recommendations for K-12 education funding in Colorado. The bill specifies the number of members that must serve on the committee and how often they are to meet during the 2017 and 2018 legislative interims. The committee may introduce up to five bills during each of the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions.

Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports the bill. Colorado’s School Finance Act has not undergone a comprehensive revision in more than 20 years, though much has changed in that time, including classroom models, theories related to best practices in education funding, and what is expected of students regarding the learning and preparation necessary to be successful in today’s economy. The bill requires a reexamination of the current school finance formula based on district and student attributes as well as the sources of revenue for the system. Our system is inherently inequitable and we are encouraged by conversations at the Capitol to address both equity and adequacy in school finance.

Current Status: The bill passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1332 (Bridges & Wilson/Smallwood & Fenberg) Teacher Licensure Programs in Nonpublic Child Care & Preschool Facilities

Summary: This bill would expand the settings in which a teacher may receive an alternative teacher license to include licensed nonpublic child care and preschool facilities.

Position: The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill as a way to increase the capacity and quality of the early childhood workforce in all early childhood settings in Colorado. Currently, a participant in an alternative teacher licensure program cannot obtain an alternative license by working in a community-based child care or preschool facility. Expanding the alternative teacher licensure program to include licensed community-based early childhood settings increases the likelihood that teachers will choose or remain in these settings while they work toward their alternative license.

Current Status: The bill passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 63-1 and now heads to the Senate Education Committee

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1320 (Michaelson Jenet/Fenberg & Coram) Age Of Consent for Outpatient Psychotherapy

Summary: This bill lowers the age at which a minor can seek and obtain outpatient psychotherapy services from a licensed mental health professional.

Position: The Children’s Campaign supports this bill as a way to help ensure that kids have access to the mental health supports they need to stay healthy. Mental health challenges can affect every aspect of a child’s life, causing difficulties at school, with friends, and at home. In addition, suicide is a tragic problem among children and adolescents in Colorado and across the country. In 2010, suicide was the second leading cause of death for U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17. Colorado has historically had a high teen suicide rate relative to the rest of the country. In 2014, only 13 other states had higher teen suicide rates than Colorado.

Current Status: The bill passed the House on a vote of 37-28 and has been assigned to the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard on Monday, May 1 at 1:30 in Room 357

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


HB17-1287 (Hamner & Rankin/Kerr & Priola) Achieving A Vision for Education in Colorado

Summary: The bill creates a steering committee to lead the statewide effort in establishing a vision for education in the state and creating a plan to achieve the vision. Additionally, the bill creates an executive advisory board with representatives from the Department of Education and Department of Higher Education, a member of the Early Childhood Leadership Commission, and a representative from the governor’s office.

Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports the bill. The education policy landscape in our state has changed considerably in the past decade, starting with the establishment of more rigorous expectations for our students in 2008. Given these policy shifts, the significant investment of voters in K-12 education, and the diverse and changing needs of Colorado’s students, we believe it is time for key leaders to look forward and establish a coherent, integrated vision and strategic plan for achieving the outcomes we want to see for our students in the next several decades.

Current Status: The bill died in the Senate State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on a party line vote of 3-2. Jennifer Corrigan, our Government Affairs Director Jennifer Corrigan testified in support of the bill.

Posted in Capitol Update, KidsFlash |


 

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