Don’t Forget: 2017 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! Community Discussions

As part of our work to ensure every chance for every child in Colorado, the Children’s Campaign is planning a 2017 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report focused on racial and ethnic equity in child well-being. In an effort to present the data in the report through the lens of those most impacted, we’re holding community dialogue sessions across the state to gather input on the data from community leaders and members. These sessions will provide an opportunity to discuss issues affecting equity in child well-being in different communities, and the discussion will help inform the narrative behind the numbers in next year’s KIDS COUNT report. We want you to join us!

Dialogue sessions with community leaders will be held on the following dates:

Denver area – September 27th (9am – 12pm)

Fort Morgan area – September 28th (9am – 12pm)

San Luis Valley area – September 27th (9am – 12pm)

La Plata County area – September 30th (9am – 12pm)

If you’re interested and available to join us for one of the sessions, please click here to fill out a brief registration form to ensure you receive additional details. Additional sessions with community members will be held later this fall. For more information about the project, please reach out to Sarah Hughes, Research Director, at sarah@coloradokids.org.

Colorado Springs to Grand Junction: Bringing KIDS COUNT in Colorado! to a Community Near You

The annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! tour has begun with staff from the Colorado Children’s Campaign traveling to Colorado Springs, Greeley, Grand Junction, Montrose, and Glenwood Springs to present local data from the 2014 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report in partnership with our It’s About Kids leaders. The presentations provide an opportunity for health, early childhood and K-12 education professionals, community and business leaders, legislators and staff, parents and other engaged citizens to come together and learn more about child well-being in their communities. These presentations would not be possible without our IAK leaders and partners throughout the state. Thank you to Alliance for Kids, Promises for Children, United Way of Weld County, Mesa County Partnership for Children & Families, Mesa County Libraries, and Hilltop for hosting us! Stay tuned to KidsFlash for updates from the road. To request a presentation in your community, contact Liz Houston at liz@coloradokids.org.

From left to right: Research Director, Sarah Hughes; IAK Leaders, Colleen Roahring and Holly Jacobson; and Research Analyst, Lily McKoy at the 2014 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! presentation in Grand Junction.
From left to right: Research Director, Sarah Hughes; IAK Leaders, Colleen Roahring and Holly Jacobson; and Research Analyst, Lily McKoy at the 2014 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! presentation in Grand Junction.

Lunch and Learn Series Ends with Focus on new KIDS COUNT data

The Children’s Campaign ended our 2014 Lunch and Learn series on a great note this week with a 2014 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! presentation at the Capitol. Legislators and partners joined us following the morning release of KIDS COUNT in a deeper conversation on the well-being of our state’s children. Special thanks to students from Indian Ridge Elementary School in Aurora for presenting their campaign to combat childhood obesity prior to the presentation.

Children’s Campaign Research Director, Sarah Hughes, led the discussion and highlighted the most up-to-date state and county-level data on kids in the areas of health, early childhood development and learning, and K-12 education. “We share this KIDS COUNT data because we believe what gets measured gets changed. Getting these data in the hands of lawmakers, community leaders and dedicated child advocates is the first step to improving the numbers and making a real difference in the lives of Colorado kids.”

Thanks to all who attended our 2014 Lunch and Learn series! We look forward to continuing the great conversations developed through this year’s events.

KIDS COUNT in Colorado! Released Today

 

hick at kidscount

The Colorado Children’s Campaign and Gov. Hickenlooper released the 2014 edition of KIDS COUNT in Colorado! today with dozens of children and child advocates. The report was unveiled at a press conference at the Capitol with lawmakers, state leaders and partners who celebrated the 21st year of the comprehensive report on the well-being of Colorado kids.

This year the report shows that more Colorado children were living in poverty in 2012—when the economy was technically in recovery—than during the worst of the Great Recession. Many Colorado children are far from seeing the benefits of the economic recovery and should be a priority for investment as state revenues rebound.

KIDS COUNT also shows that 224,000 Colorado kids (18 percent) lived in poverty in 2012. Since 2000, only two states have seen a larger percentage increase in the number of children living in poverty than Colorado. Among all Colorado children, those under the age of 6 are most likely to be in poverty, with 1 in 5 living in poverty in 2012 (20 percent). Similarly, the number of Colorado children living in areas of concentrated poverty (where the poverty rate is higher than 30 percent) has more than quadrupled since 2000.

“One in six Colorado children still lives in poverty, years after the recession officially ended,” said Chris Watney, President and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “We’ve made some steady progress in areas like improving access to quality health care and education, but poverty is a powerful influence on child well-being. If we don’t reverse this trend, we may start losing ground in areas we’ve worked so hard to address.”

kidscount coverThe KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report is part of the national KIDS COUNT project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This is the 21st anniversary edition is also supported by the El Pomar Foundation. Special thanks to El Pomar Foundation Trustee Dave Palenchar for speaking at the press conference about the foundation’s support for KIDS COUNT and how it informs the work on the foundation and advocates around the state.

For the third year, the report includes a Child Well-being Index that compares how children are faring in Colorado’s largest 25 counties by using 12 indicators to assess children’s health, education and family and community support. The index shows that child well-being varies widely from community to community. Again this year, Douglas County topped the list of Colorado counties with the best child well-being outcomes, while Denver ranked at the bottom of the list of the 25 counties for the third year in a row.

This year’s report focuses on topics that overlap the areas of child health, education and early childhood—and how these areas interact to affect children’s opportunities.

“While policymakers and experts focus on health, education, early childhood, and economic security independently, there isn’t a child in Colorado who experiences them separately,” Watney said. “A strong foundation in each of these areas is necessary if we want to ensure every child in Colorado can reach his or her full potential.”

One community already taking this approach—and finding some early successes—is Lake County. Erin Allaman, Director of Research and Evaluation for Lake County Build a Generation, also spoke at today’s press conference about efforts by leaders in Leadville to create a community-wide plan to improve the well-being of youth there. The Lake County story is highlighted along with three other community success stories in the report.

doll day

Other key findings in the 2014 KIDS COUNT report include:

  • Colorado’s teen birth rate continues to improve. Since 2000, the teen birth rate for girls ages 15 to 19 has fallen by half.
  • The number of children living in food-insecure households has started to decline as participation in SNAP has increased. On average, between 2010 and 2012, 19 percent of Colorado kids lived in food-insecure households, down from 21 percent between 2007 and 2009.
  • Colorado continues to make progress at decreasing the number of uninsured children. On average, between 2010 and 2012, 8 percent of Colorado kids were uninsured, down from 14 percent between 2004 and 2006.
  • While preschool enrollment has increased slightly in recent years, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with the sharp rise in children eligible for, and parents interested in, services like the Colorado Preschool Program.
  • Child care continues to be a heavy burden for thousands of Colorado families, both in terms of affordability and availability. Colorado is the fifth-least affordable state in the country for center-based child care for infants and 4-year-olds. The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program exists to help low-income parents afford child care while they work or attend school, but the program does not have the capacity to serve all of the families who qualify.
  • Colorado has significant gaps in child well-being based on race, ethnicity and income. In 2013, Colorado had the nation’s seventh-largest reading achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. These gaps also appear in children’s health outcomes. About a third of Hispanic and black children are overweight or obese, for example, compared to less than a quarter of non-Hispanic white children.
  • The state’s graduation rate continues to improve slowly, reaching 77 percent in 2013, up from 72 percent in 2010.
  • Forty percent of 2011 Colorado high school graduates who attended a Colorado public college or university needed remediation in at least one subject area.

Click here to visit our 2014 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! page, where you can download the full report in English and an executive summary and press release in Spanish. Also, see photos from the day and catch up on the amazing amount of media and social media coverage it garnered!

Join Us Monday for the Release of KIDS COUNT

Please join the Colorado Children’s Campaign and Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday for the release of the 2014 edition of KIDS COUNT in Colorado! We’ll gather in the South Foyer of the Colorado State Capitol at 10:30 a.m. with legislators, partners, advocates and lots of Colorado kids to release the 21st annual edition of our comprehensive report on child well-being in Colorado. We hope to see you there!

Increasing Access to Quality Childhood Experiences Subject of This Week’s Lunch and Learn

The Children’s Campaign hosted the third event in our annual Lunch and Learn series this week, focusing on the importance of early development and access to quality learning experiences for young children. Children are born learning and they learn in partnership with everyone who cares for them. Making sure that the various settings where children grow and develop can serve the needs of children well is vital to the long-term success of our economy and our society. Yet, there are far more children eligible than can be served in programs that help young children in Colorado, including the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) and the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP).

Children’s Campaign Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives, Bill Jaeger, highlighted the need to support our most vulnerable children to create the best outcomes for children and society. “Children under age 6 are the group most likely to be in poverty in Colorado,” Jaeger said, “These children are susceptible to struggles in school and in life and we need to ensure they have the support they need to learn, thrive and grow.” Getting it right early not only benefits individual children, but builds stronger communities, a more educated population, and a more productive and competitive workforce in the future.

The final event in our annual Lunch and Learn series will be held Monday, March 24 AT THE CAPITOL. We will be releasing this year’s KIDS COUNT in Colorado! with Gov. John Hickenlooper in the West Foyer of the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. Join us for the release and then come to the Lunch and Learn afterward at 11:45 in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, second floor, to get a deeper look into this year’s KIDS COUNT.

KIDS COUNT Success Story: Overcoming a Food Desert in Campo

Campo is a prime example of a “food desert,” where access to fresh food is not always an option. The tiny southeast Colorado town’s closest Wal-Mart is three hours away in the nearest big city—Amarillo, Texas. For Campo families, fresh fruits and vegetables can be a rare thing.

With a grant from the Colorado Legacy Foundation, leaders at the Campo School District are helping local families improve health by teaching children about nutritious food options—and making healthy food easier to get. The superintendent of the 54-student district often drives more than an hour away to a small food market to pick up fruit and vegetable items for the school’s first salad bar.

The school began an active employee wellness program and established the town’s first school/community garden. Kids learn about better nutrition at “Thursday Tasties” and vending machines only offer healthy options.

The efforts have been lauded by the Colorado Legacy Foundation for showing how low-cost ideas, such as a school garden, can help families learn about and access healthier food. For the full story, please check out CLF’s Rural Case Studies at www.colegacy.org.

This story is one of the community success stories featured in the 2013 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! ReportThanks to Amy Dyett, School Health and Wellness Manager, Colorado Legacy Foundation.

KIDS COUNT Success Story: Montrose: Learning Starts Early with Healthy Breakfast in Montrose

The lumps were quickly smoothed out of the school breakfast program at Pomona Elementary School in Montrose last year. Shortly after offering all 411 students free breakfast each day in their first class, many teachers, leaders and custodians who had their doubts were converts. The biggest reason was better student behavior.

“We had fewer students coming to the office for misbehaving in the morning because they have food in their bellies,” Principal Joe Simo said. “They are less hungry and more engaged.”

The logistics worked themselves out as well. Kindergarten teachers poked straws through the foil lids on juice containers to cut down on spills. Custodians double bagged the trash cans in the classrooms so teachers could pull out the inner bag of breakfast trash and leave in the hall for pick up. Not wanting to lose a precious minute of instruction time, teachers modified first-period lessons to focus on daily language instruction while the kids ate.

A big part of the success is the universal access. There’s no stigma attached because no one knows whose food is covered by a grant and whose food is paid for by a federal low-income feeding program. With just a bit of adjustment, the service is now a part of the school culture.

“Certain things you have to make time for in your school day,” Simo said. “Our focus is definitely academics, but you have to work on the whole student. Improving nutrition and setting time aside for that is important. We’ve been able to have that by having breakfast in the classroom.”

This story is one of the community success stories featured in the 2013 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! Report.

KIDS COUNT Success Story: Ensuring Kids Get the Health Care They Need, When They Need It In Pueblo

More Colorado children are covered with health insurance than ever before, thanks in part to recent expansions of public health insurance. However, some 2,700 kids are still uninsured in Pueblo County, often because families don’t know they’re eligible for Medicaid or CHP+, or because they fell off coverage because of fluctuating incomes, frequent moves or other factors. With support from The Colorado Trust and the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Pueblo Step Up and Children First Child Care Resource and Referral at Pueblo Community College worked together to screen families seeking child care and other services to ensure their children had health insurance.

In 2012, Step Up helped more than 650 low-income children either enroll in health insurance or navigate enrollment to stay covered. Children First and Step Up also help parents understand that health care decisions are too important to leave to others, and that their voice matters when it comes to getting the care their children need.

Working together with families, these organizations are helping get all Pueblo kids covered.

This story is one of the community success stories featured in the 2013 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! Report. Thanks to Simon Tearpak, Program Specialist, Pueblo StepUp.