Creating financially secure, stable and safe families and communities
Health begins where we live, learn, work and play. In order to live their healthiest lives, children need to live in families that are financially secure, have stable and affordable housing, and live in communities without gun violence.
The stress caused by living in poverty – which impacted more than 11% of Colorado kids prior to the pandemic – can inhibit young children’s early brain development, and negatively impact their ability to succeed in school and develop the social-emotional skills for adulthood. Poverty also impacts children’s health and their health outcomes well into their adult lives. On the other hand, increases in family income when children are young can lead to improved outcomes for kids living in households with low-incomes that last into adulthood.
Housing insecurity generates many stressors and challenges for families. Frequent moves, or living in overcrowded or poor quality housing, impact children’s well-being and development. Families with children are more likely to be evicted than other groups. The latest available data indicate that 3 in 10 Colorado kids live in a household with a high housing cost burden (where families are spending more than 30% of income on housing expenses), and more than 21,400 students in Colorado’s public schools experienced homelessness at some point during the 2019-2020 school year.
Gun violence impacts the health and safety of all Colorado children and families. It contributes to unintentional child injuries and deaths, instances of youth suicide and violence, and maternal mortality. Even children who are not directly injured by firearms are affected by gun violence. Too many kids witness gun violence against others in their families or communities, and a majority worry about experiencing a shooting themselves.
The Children’s Campaign works with advocacy partners and community members in coalitions to pursue state, federal, and local policy changes that increase family economic success and access to housing. The Children’s Campaign also works to advance policies that are proven to prevent child and youth firearm-related injuries and deaths, including suicide.
Recent Policy Successes
HB 21-1106, Improved Firearm Safety, creates a firearm “safe storage” law, which research has proven to be an effective way to reduce gun-related injuries and deaths among children, including suicides. HB21-1299 creates a new Office of Gun Violence Prevention to further examine gun violence in the state, including identifying communities that are most affected and using evidence-based tools to prevent gun violence.
SB 20-029, Basic Cash Assistance for TANF Families, allows Colorado to use federal funds to ensure that families enrolled in the TANF program, who are experiencing extreme poverty, receive additional money in their pockets as soon as possible to help weather the immediate effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
The 2019 “Home Equity: A Vision of Housing Security, Health and Opportunity” report from the Health Equity Advocacy Cohort – of which the Children’s Campaign is a member – and the Colorado Health Institute shows a direct connection between housing and health outcomes. This report outlines 11 promising policy ideas that might be implemented in Colorado. They range from local to state-level solutions, and include ways to correct policies that have created today’s inequitable systems. We support policies that let our neighbors live their healthiest lives regardless of ZIP code, ethnicity, or income.
Adequate funding for the Eviction Legal Defense Fund helps ensure that families have access to legal representation that can prevent evictions and help keep families housed.