2022 Colorado Children’s Campaign Annual Report
How can we create every chance for every child in Colorado? It’s a question that is always with the Children’s Campaign team – and in recent years, we set out to come up with an answer that addresses the real needs of Colorado kids and families in the 2020s.
The result was a new strategic framework that will guide our work for years to come. It highlights goals and guiding North Star principles in four areas: Family Economic Prosperity, Youth Success, Child and Family Health, and Early Childhood. These are issues our team has worked on for years, but the new framework clarifies our commitment to advancing research, policy, and advocacy in these areas.
You will see that commitment reflected in our 2022 annual report.
In 2022, our team successfully advocated for bills that set the function and leadership of the new Department of Early Childhood. We expanded public health coverage to children, pregnant and postpartum undocumented Coloradans. We advocated for improvements to the Colorado Works (TANF) program. And we established new measures of student poverty and created a new fund that will help improve equity in funding across Colorado’s school districts. We also supported the passage of Proposition FF, which will provide free school meals to all public school students and help combat food insecurity. These are important steps toward creating a Colorado where our systems are truly serving all kids and families.
The Children’s Campaign team also convened or participated substantially in more than 20 coalitions across our issue areas. We were pleased to produce and share this year’s KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, our most comprehensive portrait so far of how our state’s kids and families are faring in the aftermath of the pandemic. And we continue to connect with and learn from our powerful statewide community of advocates at Speak Up for Kids events and the first in-person It’s About Kids retreat since before the pandemic.
We are, as ever, grateful for the collaboration of our dedicated partners, advocates, and communities across the state. We are particularly appreciative of the many people who participated in the multiyear strategic planning process that led to the creation of our new framework. I know that the successes of 2022 will serve as building blocks from which to advance systems-level change in the years to come.
Thank you for your continued support for our work.
Kelly Causey, Ph.D., President and CEO
The Children’s Campaign released the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report in August 2022. A Pause on Progress: The Impact of the Pandemic on Colorado’s Kids brought together data from national, state, and local sources to create a portrait of Colorado’s kids well-being in the years immediately following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team found that thousands of Colorado kids 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. The report’s release was attended by more than 100 community members, and we presented the report in dozens of communities over the course of the year. Our research team also worked to ensure our policy agenda is evidence-based and advocated to ensure that our governments are collecting and sharing the data needed to understand and drive change in areas that matter for kids’ well-being.
In 2022, the Children’s Campaign hosted the first in-person It’s About Kids (IAK) Network retreat since 2019. Our staff was joined by an incredible group of advocates from across the state. Our network of more than five dozen IAK leaders in 49 counties continued to play an essential role in informing our work throughout 2022.
Our signature advocacy event, Speak Up for Kids Day, was held virtually with support from our partners at Children’s Hosptial Colorado and Clayton Early Learning. More than 150 attendees learned about key issues affecting Colorado kids, shared stories, and practiced their advocacy skills with legislators.
We also hosted our first in-person annual event since the beginning of the pandemic. The Campaign’s first-ever Connection Reception was attended by more than 200 people from across sectors and across the state who are invested in the well-being of kids and families.
North Star Goal: All children have equitable, high-quality early childhood experiences shaped by well-supported families, caregivers, and educators that foster social-emotional development, health and overall well-being
In 2022, our early childhood team worked to support the implementation of the new Department of Early Childhood, create a groundbreaking universal preschool program, and bolster state support for the early childhood workforce. Our efforts were critical to ensuring the new department remained in alignment with the vision of caregivers, parents, providers, advocates, and community members. We worked closely with our partners to make sure that those who are most affected by changes to early childhood policy – families and providers – remain engaged as these new programs become reality.
- Early Childhood Educator Income Tax Credit: HB22-1010 (Sirota & Van Beber/Buckner & Kirkmeyer): Creates a refundable income tax credit for early childhood educators tied to their credentialing level. This is a proven strategy to support recruitment, retention, compensation, and professional advancement among our vital early childhood educators.
- Department of Early Childhood and Universal Preschool: HB22-1295 (Sirota & Garnett/Buckner & Fenberg): Establishes the functions of the Department of Early Childhood and the leadership of the department in administering early childhood, child health, and family support programs. It also created the Colorado Universal Preschool Program.
CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH
North Star Goal: All families have comprehensive health insurance, strong social support, perinatal and reproductive health services and ample amounts of healthy food.
Our advocacy in 2022 focused on ensuring that pregnant people, kids, and undocumented Coloradans have access to the insurance they need. Better health coverage and access to care is a win for families, communities, and our state’s economic future. We also continued to track and advocate for the successful implementation of previous bills. For instance, more than 10,000 undocumented Coloradans enrolled in Omnisalud, a health insurance option made available by SB20-215, and thousands of enrollees participated in family planning programs that we advocated for in 2021. The Children’s Campaign is working closely with partners to ensure that HB22-1289, Cover All Coloradans, achieves its goals of increasing access to health insurance and care. We are committed to supporting and promoting community involvement throughout the implementation of this bill.
- Cover All Coloradans: HB22-1289 (Gonzales-Gutierrez & McCluskie/Moreno & Fields): Provides comprehensive public health insurance coverage to children, pregnant and postpartum undocumented Coloradans, and makes several other critical investments in perinatal care in Colorado.
North Star Goal: All youth believe they belong, feel vital to their communities, and have the resources, opportunities, and support they need to thrive in adolescence and beyond
The Children’s Campaign made important progress toward funding K-12 schools across the state more equitably in 2022. Our team supported the creation of the Mill Levy Override Match Fund, which will bolster funding for school districts with less property wealth. We also supported an effort to make sure Colorado has a strong method for evaluating which students are at risk of poor academic outcomes due to economic disadvantage – an important step in making sure state funding for K-12 education is directed toward the students and schools that need it most. Our team is also working with the Colorado Department of Education on the implementation of HB22-1376 to improve transparency and accuracy in data collection related to school discipline, absenteeism, harassment, and bullying. These data will be the foundation of school climate profile reports that will provide crucial information about learning environments to parents, students, educators, and policymakers.
- School Finance Student Poverty Measure: HB22-1202 (Herod & McCluskie/Zenzinger & Coleman): Establishes a process for creating a new measure to identify students at risk of poor academic outcomes due to economic disadvantage. This will allow the state’s school funding formula to more accurately and adequately allocate resources to serve students.
- Supportive Schools for K-12 Students: HB22-1376 (Herod & Young/Priola & Winter): Updates Colorado’s policies, practices and data frameworks to make data about students’ experiences at school more transparent and accessible, end discipline practices that have been shown to harm students, and ensure that every student learns in an environment that is positive, safe and inclusive.
- State Match for Mill Levy Override: SB22-202 (Zenzinger & Rankin/McCluskie): Makes a targeted state investment in low-wealth school districts that constantly struggle for adequate funding to meet student needs. The bill creates a Mill Levy Override Match Fund, which will recognize local, voter-approved property tax investments and meet that effort with a state match on a sliding scale.
FAMILY ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
North Star Goal: All families have safe, stable housing and the financial resources they need to support their well-being and achieve economic prosperity.
In 2022, we helped ensure that programs that provide economic support to kids and families were more responsive to families’ needs. These improvements were especially needed amid inflation and the increased cost of living across the nation, and will help families living with incomes far below the poverty line receive much-needed financial resources. The TANF Coalition, co-convened by the Children’s Campaign, is working with the Colorado Department of Human Services and other stakeholders to ensure that the rulemaking and implementation processes for these improvements promote economic security and reduce barriers for Colorado families.
- Modifications to Colorado Works Program: HB22-1259 (Duran & Jodeh/Moreno): Updates and improves the TANF program, known here as Colorado Works, so that families can fully benefit from its support. The bill increases basic cash assistance (BCA) and implements an annual cost of living adjustment to ensure that BCA keeps up with inflation and the rising cost of living.
- Eviction Legal Defense Funding: HB22-1329 (McCluskie/Hansen): Secures $500,000 in the “Long Bill,” or the FY 2022-23 state budget, to provide additional legal assistance for Colorado families going through the eviction process.