Youngest Coloradans at Risk of Undercount in 2020 Census

Economic, health and education challenges could deepen in communities that miss kids in census; federal money and representation at stake

Contact: Tara Manthey
Title: Vice President of Advocacy and Communications
Phone: 720-256-1312

Youngest Coloradans at Risk of Undercount in 2020 Census

Economic, health and education challenges could deepen in communities that miss kids in census; federal money and representation at stake


August 27th, 2019

DENVER— The 2020 Census risks undercounting thousands of young Colorado children, depriving communities of federal funding and political representation for the next decade, according to a new analysis from the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Children under age 5 are more likely to be missed by the census than any other age group, with children of color, non-English speakers, and kids living in high poverty communities at highest risk.

The 2010 Census undercounted Colorado  kids under age 5 by 5 percent, and the undercount of young kids in the 2020 Census could be even worse given fears about data privacy and confidentiality, according to the 2019 edition of KIDS COUNT in Colorado!, an annual county-by-county report on child well-being. Failing to count Coloradans will put billions of federal dollars and representation in Congress at stake in the decade following the nationwide count of every person. In 2015, Colorado received more than $2 billion in census-guided federal funding for kids’ programs alone, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Head Start, among others.

“The census is a kids’ issue,” said Sarah Hughes, Vice President of Research Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Hughes is also a member of the State of Colorado’s Complete Count Campaign, which is tasked with ensuring an accurate count across the state. “Filling out a census questionnaire might not come to the top of mind as a way to help all Colorado kids, but the simple act of ensuring that every child is counted will go a long way toward ensuring Colorado doesn’t lose hundreds of millions of dollars for programs that help families access health care, afford child care or give their children early learning opportunities.”

The reasons why young children are undercounted in the census at a higher rate than any other age group are varied, according to the report. Young children are more likely than older children or adults to live in households with incomes below the poverty line or to be living in rental housing. They are more likely to live in mobile families who are harder to reach. Young kids are also more likely to live in households with complex living arrangements, such as with grandparents and multiple families under one roof.

The Children’s Campaign examined indicators linked to undercounting kids at the county level in Colorado to provide a rough estimate of where young kids in Colorado may be most likely to be missed in the 2020 census. Counties at the highest risk include Costilla, Alamosa, Denver, Rio Grande, Morgan, Crowley, Adams, Prowers and Saguache.

“Every one of these communities already had a higher-than-average child poverty rate as of 2017,” Hughes said. “If young kids in these counties are undercounted in the 2020 Census, their communities face losing federal funding for programs that are vital to kids for the next decade—which would only make it harder for families to make ends meet and build a strong foundation for their children. It’s essential that communities across the state come together and find ways to make sure every kid is counted in 2020.”

The report outlines a few ways child advocates and community members can help:

  • Join a Complete Count Committee in your community, and help develop strategies to ensure the census counts every young child.
  • People who work with families with young children should share the importance of participating in the 2020 Census.
  • Encourage friends and family to participate in the census and spread the word—especially to families with young children.

The annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report tracks the well-being of Colorado children statewide and at the county level. The 26th annual report includes data and research on kids in the areas of demographics, 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. That report tracks child well-being state by state and was released in June.

Other data trends noted in the report:

  • In 2017, Colorado’s teen suicide rate hit its highest level on record at nearly 21 suicides per 100,000 teens ages 15 to 19. In some communities, more than one in five high school students reported that they had seriously considered suicide in the past year. (PAGE 26)
  • Finding child care remains a significant challenge for thousands of Colorado families, with infant care being particularly hard to find. Between 2010 and 2018, the number of licensed infant slots in Colorado fell by 28 percent. During this time period, 52 out of Colorado’s 64 counties either experienced a decline in the availability of infant child care or had no licensed infant care available in the first place. (PAGE 31)
  • After years of improvements, progress on kids’ health coverage has stagnated in recent years. As of 2017, 4.5 percent of Colorado kids were uninsured—relatively unchanged since 2015. Colorado’s Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaska Native children continue to face more barriers to health coverage than their peers and are uninsured at higher-than-average rates. (PAGE 22)



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 well-being in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child well-being and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit

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