Some Child Well-Being Signs Improve Despite Growing Poverty Rate

Child poverty rate hits 18 percent, yet state sees gains in some health and education indicators.

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

Some Child Well-Being Signs Improve Despite Growing Poverty Rate

Child poverty rate hits 18 percent, yet state sees gains in some health and education indicators.


March 18th, 2013

Denver, CO – The number and percent of children living in poverty in Colorado continues to grow, according to a new report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign. The 2013 edition of KIDS COUNT in Colorado!, an annual report on child well-being, shows Colorado still has one of the fastest growing rates of child poverty in the nation since 2000. Despite the increase in poverty, some signs of child well-being have improved during the same time, likely as a result of targeted efforts to increase access to child health coverage and high quality education.

Colorado’s child poverty rate reached 18 percent in 2011, up from 17 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2000. In numbers, that equates to an additional 6,000 children who fell into poverty between 2010 and 2011, and approximately 113,000 additional children since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Colorado’s overall percentage of children living in poverty remains below the national average of 20 percent. The report also showed Colorado’s child population continues to grow.

“More than 1.2 million children call Colorado home, and that number is growing,” said Chris Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “KIDS COUNT data make it clear the quality of this state as a home varies widely. There are significant and growing gaps between children who are doing well and those who are struggling that are consistently influenced by family income, race, gender, community and neighborhood.”

The report found that while poverty increased over the past decade and during the most recent data period measured, there were also many indications that efforts to improve health, education and family economic security are working.

“From a declining number of uninsured children to modest improvements in education outcomes, statewide policies are improving kids’ lives,” Watney said. “Efforts like expanding the CHP+ child health coverage program and creating statewide education standards are paying off, and we are pleased that investments in early reading and other important programs are part of this administration’s ongoing commitments.”

The KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report is part of the national KIDS COUNT project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This is the 20th anniversary of the Colorado report. For the second year, the report includes a Child Well-being Index that provides a picture of 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 included in the rankings. Some of the communities in the top 10 ranking for well-being including Broomfield, Larimer and Routt counties dropped slightly in their overall rankings.

“Where a child lives has significant implications on whether she can access health care, quality education and enjoy a safe neighborhood,” Watney said. “There are many children doing very well in Colorado, but also a lot of kids who are struggling. Digging into the data helps local and state policy makers, as well as committed individuals in communities, focus proven solutions in areas where kids need the most help.”

This year’s report highlights examples of community efforts around the state to address challenges in their areas. From a mobile preschool in Garfield County to a student-led bullying prevention program in Aurora, the report notes that Coloradans are harnessing the power of community to ensure all kids grow up healthy, safe and ready to learn.

Other key findings in the 2013 KIDS COUNT report include:

  • Colorado was home to 1,233,982 children under the age of 18 in 2011. The state’s population has increased every year since 1990, with the exception of 2009, when there was a slight decline. Since 2000, Colorado’s child population has grown more diverse. The percentage of Colorado children who are non-Hispanic white declined by 9 percentage points between 2000 and 2011, while the proportion of Hispanic children grew by 7 percentage points. The percent of the child population made up by Asian, American Indian and black children remained fairly stable.
  • Efforts to ensure all Colorado kids have health insurance have resulted in thousands more children with health coverage. In 2010, 9 percent of all Colorado kids under age 18 were uninsured, the lowest rate since 1992. Between 2009 and 2010, the number of uninsured Colorado children dropped from 117,000 to 113,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
  • During the 2012-2013 school year, 70 percent of all Colorado kindergartners were enrolled in a full-day program. That’s an 89 percent increase since the 2007-2008 school year. Since the state of Colorado pays for only a half day, many districts and parents are picking up the difference.
  • The cost of child care in Colorado remains high compared to other states around the U.S. In 2011, Colorado ranked as the fourth-least affordable state for infant care in a center and the sixth-least affordable state for center-based care for a 4-year-old, relative to state median income.
  • In 2012, the percent of Colorado fourth-graders who scored proficient or above on the state’s standardized assessment increased to 67 percent, up from 65 percent in 2011. But there are wide achievement gaps in fourth-grade reading scores between children of color and their peers. Only about half of all Hispanic and black students scored proficient, compared to about three-quarters of non-Hispanic white students. Also, in 2012, Colorado’s graduation rate continued to improve, rising from 73.9 percent in 2011 to 75.4 percent in 2012.
  • Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) scores show achievement gaps between male and female students. Female students are more likely to score proficient or advanced in reading and writing, while male students outperform female students in science and math.

For more information or to download the full 2013 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