2016 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! Report: First Back-to-Back Decline in Child Poverty Rate in More than a Decade
A declining child poverty rate is among several important indicators of child well-being that are improving in Colorado, according to the 2016 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report. The drop in the poverty rate in 2014 marks the first consecutive decline in more than a decade. However, disparities in well-being persist and improvements are not reaching all children.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia joined us for the release of the report at the Capitol, alongside more than 100 close partners and friends. Special guests Abbie Brewer and Maria Pacheco Gonzalez of LiveWell Montrose Olathe shared their story of improving child well-being in their community by bridging cultures with an innovative family nutrition effort. See photos from the release on our Facebook page, explore social media coverage, read media coverage of the report or dig into the data with an interactive data feature of the latest findings.
This year’s report found that Colorado’s child poverty rate of 15 percent is still five percentage points higher than in 2000, but has fallen to its pre-recession level for the first time since the economic downturn. This percentage represents more than 190,000 kids who lived in families with incomes below the federal poverty level as of 2014 (the most recent data available). Poverty is defined as an annual income of less than $23,850 for a family of four. Disparities also remain significant: many children of color and children in Colorado’s rural communities aren’t benefiting from economic growth as much as children overall.
A number of other indicators of child well-being are moving toward the positive as a result of economic improvements and policy changes. About 100,000 more kids have health insurance now than in 2008, and fewer families are reporting cost as a barrier to accessing prescriptions, dental care and specialist care for their children. The state’s teen birth rate also continued to decline in 2014.
“We’re encouraged by the improvements in well-being for Colorado kids,” said Chris Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “These trends are buoyed by economic progress, as well as key policy changes supported by research. Breakthroughs including more kids with health coverage and fewer unintended teen pregnancies were made possible by the thoughtful work of our policymakers, and the passion and hard work of professionals, providers and parents in every part of Colorado.”
The 23rd edition of the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report is part of the national KIDS COUNT initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This year’s report, Futures in the Balance, examines many outcomes by geography, income, race and ethnicity to better understand why Colorado’s impressive economic growth hasn’t reached all kids.
“By far, children feeling the most significant impacts of poverty are children of color,” Watney said. “As we see improvements in KIDS COUNT data because of strong policy decisions and economic progress, we need to continue to ensure that momentum includes all kids. When we fight for every chance for every child—no matter his or her race, ethnicity or family finances—we all benefit.”
Key findings in the 2016 KIDS COUNT report include:
- The overall child poverty rate of 15 percent has declined for two consecutive years and reached its pre-recession level in 2014.
- The child poverty rate varies significantly across the state: As of 2014, the lowest rate was in Douglas County, with 4 percent of children living below the federal poverty line. The highest rate, 40 percent, was in Saguache County.
- Although the poverty rate for children has declined overall, there are still significant disparities based on race and ethnicity. While 8 percent of white children lived in poverty, the rate was 27 percent for Latino children and 31 percent for black children.
- Homelessness in several urban school districts has skyrocketed as housing costs have increased. In Denver County, the number of homeless students increased by 41 percent between the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. Mesa County experienced a 68 percent increase during the same time period.
- While fewer kids have an unemployed parent, still 1 in 4 Colorado children lived in a household in which no parent has secure full-time employment.
- Colorado’s uninsured rate for children under 18 dropped to 5.6 percent in 2014, a record low.
- Since 2009, uninsured rates have declined for children of all races and ethnicities. However, the uninsured rate for Hispanic children remains twice as high as the rate for any other racial orethnic group.
- Colorado continues to rank as one of the least affordable states for child care, relative to state median income. In 2014, Colorado ranked as the fifth-least affordable state for infant care in a child care center and seventh-least affordable state for center-based 4-year-old care.
- In the 2015-2016 school year, 76 percent of Colorado kindergartners were enrolled in a full-day program, up significantly from 40 percent in the 2007-2008 school year.
- New statewide assessments in 2015 set new baselines for student achievement in Colorado. The assessments show that only 40 percent of Colorado students in grades 3 through 11 met or exceeded expectations in English language arts, while only 30 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 met or exceeded expectations in math.
- Colorado’s on-time high school graduation rate plateaued at 77.3 percent in 2015, after four years of consecutive increases.
Children’s Campaign friends, partners and supporters joined us for the release and a reception outside the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the Colorado State Capitol this week.
For the fifth year, the report includes a Child Well-Being Index that compares how children are faring in Colorado’s largest 25 counties by using 11 indicators to assess children’s health, education and family and community support. The index shows that child well-being varies widely from community to community. Again this year, Douglas County topped the list of Colorado counties with the best child well-being outcomes, while Montezuma County was 25th.
For more information or to download the full 2016 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, please visit www.coloradokids.org/KIDSCOUNT2016.