Colorado Children’s Budget 2010

Date Posted: December 14, 2010

As Colorado families and children continue to suffer through the recession and policymakers and child advocates struggle to determine where to invest increasingly limited funds in order to best serve them, the Colorado Children’s Campaign believes that non-partisan data and analysis of the state budget’s impact on Colorado kids is critical. The Colorado Children’s Budget 2010 aims to provide just that. Intended to be a resource guide to policymakers and advocates alike, the Children’s Budget provides high-level trend data to show where state dollars are being spent to benefit children. It attempts to simplify often complicated budget information and, while it does include some analysis of the raw budget data in order to provide clarity, it is not intended to advocate for or against budget and policy decisions, past or future.

For those of us who are not economists, the data in this report might appear overwhelming. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Colorado’s investment in children’s programs since 2000 has been minimal to moderate. In real dollar terms, the purchasing power of money invested in children’s programs and services has declined steadily since 2000.
  • While programs and services for children are intended to work in concert, they tend to have very different federal, state and local rules, regulations and obligations, often making it difficult to align programs and services and maximize the benefits for kids.
  • Most appropriations for children’s services are allocated to counties and local entities through the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) with counties maintaining program oversight responsibilities. CDHS is the only state department in which total investments grew only minimally since 2000.
  • Overall, whether or not a program experienced growth hinged on one of three factors: (1) state constitutional protections; (2) dedicated cash fund revenue; or (3) ability to leverage substantial federal funding in lieu of or in addition to block grants, making it critically important for policymakers and child advocates to consider Colorado’s constitutional constraints on the state budget, as well as dedicated state funding sources and federal funding for programs and services, when evaluating fiscal policies that impact children.
Colorado Children's Budget 2010