More Colorado Kids Living in Poverty than During Recession

Lack of recovery for kids threatens gains made in health, education

Contact: Tara Manthey
Title: Communications Director
Phone: (720) 256-1312

More Colorado Kids Living in Poverty than During Recession

Lack of recovery for kids threatens gains made in health, education


3/24/14 12:01 am ET

Denver, CO – More Colorado children were living in poverty in 2012— when the economy was technically in recovery—than during the worst of the Great Recession, according to a report released today from the Colorado Children’s Campaign. The 2014 edition of KIDS COUNT in Colorado! shows that many Colorado children are far from seeing the benefits of the economic recovery and should be a priority for investment as state revenues rebound.

The annual report on child well-being shows that 224,000 Colorado kids (18 percent) lived in poverty in 2012. Since 2000, only two states have seen a larger percentage increase in the number of children living in poverty than Colorado. Among all Colorado children, those under the age of 6 are most likely to be in poverty, with 1 in 5 living in poverty in 2012 (20 percent). Similarly, the number of Colorado children living in areas of concentrated poverty (where the poverty rate is higher than 30 percent) has more than quadrupled since 2000.

“One in six Colorado children still lives in poverty, years after the recession officially ended,” said Chris Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “We’ve made some steady progress in areas like improving access to quality health care and education, but poverty is a powerful influence on child well-being. If we don’t reverse this trend, we may start losing ground in areas we’ve worked so hard to address.”

The KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report is part of the national KIDS COUNT project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This is the 21st anniversary of the Colorado report. For the third year, the report includes a Child Well-being Index that compares how children are faring in Colorado’s largest 25 counties by using 12 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 Denver ranked at the bottom of the list of the 25 counties for the third year in a row.

This year’s report focuses on topics that overlap the areas of child health, education and early childhood—and how these areas interact to affect children’s opportunities.

“While policymakers and experts focus on health, education, early childhood, and economic security independently, there isn’t a child in Colorado who experiences them separately,” Watney said. “A strong foundation in each of these areas is necessary if we want to ensure every child in Colorado can reach his or her full potential.”

Other key findings in the 2014 KIDS COUNT report include:

  • Colorado’s teen birth rate continues to improve. Since 2000, the teen birth rate for girls ages 15 to 19 has fallen by half.
  • The number of children living in food-insecure households has started to decline as participation in SNAP has increased. On average, between 2010 and 2012, 19 percent of Colorado kids lived in food-insecure households, down from 21 percent between 2007 and 2009.
  • Colorado continues to make progress at decreasing the number of uninsured children. On average, between 2010 and 2012, 8 percent of Colorado kids were uninsured, down from 14 percent between 2004 and 2006.
  • While preschool enrollment has increased slightly in recent years, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with the sharp rise in children eligible for, and parents interested in, services like the Colorado Preschool Program.
  • Child care continues to be a heavy burden for thousands of Colorado families, both in terms of affordability and availability. Colorado is the fifth-least affordable state in the country for center-based child care for infants and 4-year-olds. The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program exists to help low-income parents afford child care while they work or attend school, but the program does not have the capacity to serve all of the families who qualify.
  • Colorado has significant gaps in child well-being based on race, ethnicity and income. In 2013, Colorado had the nation’s seventh-largest reading achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. These gaps also appear in children’s health outcomes. About a third of Hispanic and black children are overweight or obese, for example, compared to less than a quarter of non-Hispanic white children.
  • The state’s graduation rate continues to improve slowly, reaching 77 percent in 2013, up from 72 percent in 2010.
  • Forty percent of 2011 Colorado high school graduates who attended a Colorado public college or university needed remediation in at least one subject area.

For more information or to download the full 2014 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, please visit


About Colorado Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and advocacy organization focused on improving the quality of and expanding access to child health, K-12 education and early childhood experiences. For more information, please visit

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Tara Manthey at (720) 256-1312 or email Tara at