The pandemic pauses Colorado’s progress across many child and family well-being indicators

Recent data points to the critical need for state investments in kids to combat long-term impacts of pandemic

Contact: Sarah Hughes
Title: Vice President, Research Initiatives
Phone: (314) 749-4121

The pandemic pauses Colorado’s progress across many child and family well-being indicators

Recent data points to the critical need for state investments in kids to combat long-term impacts of pandemic


8/17/22 12:00 am ET

DENVER – According to data included in a new report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign, thousands of Colorado kids have lost a parent or primary caregiver to COVID-19 since March 2020, and many more have been harmed by the pandemic’s economic and educational effects. This year’s report navigates the compounding challenges of the pandemic in Colorado by drawing upon data sources that reach across the areas of early childhood, child and family health, family economic security, and K-12 education.

The 2022 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report reveals the momentous loss experienced by children and families across the state during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. It illustrates the pandemic’s continued, far-reaching effects on Colorado kids – from difficulty accessing health care, child care and early learning opportunities, and K-12 education; to ongoing housing instability and other economic challenges. Among Colorado households with children, about half reported a loss of household income since the pandemic began, and one-third reported difficulty paying for usual household expenses, including medical care or food.

“Even as we see some return to normal activities, kids across our state continue to experience compounding trauma in the face of the pandemic,” said Kelly Causey, President & CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “Whether it be the loss of a primary caregiver, increased food insecurity, or the lack of stable housing, the pandemic continues to impact kids in ways that are important to measure. It is essential that our state leaders use these data on how Colorado kids and families are faring to make public investments in programs that support their well-being.”

The 2022 KIDS COUNT report also details the stark disparities the pandemic has exacerbated for Colorado communities of color as a result of longstanding, harmful policies and practices. Data reveal that Hispanic children comprised more than 45% of all Colorado kids who lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19, despite accounting for only one-third of the state’s children. This number alone is a critical indicator of the disproportionate impact the pandemic continues to have on communities of color.

Even amid the hardships of the pandemic, however, it is clear that policy change can make an enormous difference in the lives of children and families. The report, “A Pause on Progress: The Impacts of the Pandemic on Colorado’s Kids,” offers policy recommendations that emphasize the need to increase public investment in programs that support the health and well-being of children across the state. Recommendations include investing in income support for families; expanding access to behavioral, mental, and physical health services; and investing in sustainable, adequate support for children’s early learning and development. The report also highlights policy changes enacted since March 2020 that helped shield kids and families from the pandemic and accompanying economic downturn.

“We have the power to improve conditions for kids in our state, even when we face barriers that seem insurmountable,” said Sarah Hughes, Vice President, Research Initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “Policy choices made during the pandemic — like the temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit and provisions to keep kids enrolled in health coverage through Medicaid — have proven that. We encourage our state’s policymakers and advocates to use the data in this report as a tool to continue advancing change in the systems that serve kids and families, while prioritizing the needs of those facing the most barriers to opportunity.”

Other data trends noted in the report include the following:

  • The number of people in families with children in Colorado homeless shelters increased by 16% between 2020 and 2021.
  • Mental health is an ongoing concern for Colorado kids and families, and suicide rates among kids and teens in Colorado remain at historically high levels. In 2020, more than 100 Colorado kids lost their lives to suicide, double the number of deaths seen a decade earlier.
  • Nearly 50% of Colorado households with young children reported experiencing child care disruptions due to COVID-19 as of early 2022. One-quarter reported that child care disruptions caused them to either cut their work hours or use vacation, sick days or other paid leave to care for their children.
  • Colorado students participated in standardized academic assessments at much lower rates than normal in 2021, hampering the ability to measure the pandemic’s effects on student learning.

The annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report tracks the well-being of Colorado children statewide and at the county level. The 29th annual report includes data and research on kids in the areas of health, early childhood, K-12 education, and family economic security. The report is a complement to the national KIDS COUNT Data Book produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which was released on Aug. 8.

A digital copy of the KIDS COUNT report (embargoed until Aug. 17, 2022) is available here.


About Colorado Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Sarah Hughes at (314) 749-4121 or email Sarah at