This morning the Colorado Children's Campaign released its annual report, "Kids Count," at the State Capitol. According to the report, more Colorado children were living in poverty in 2012 than during the worst of the Great Depression. And despite the economic recovery, "one in six Colorado children still lives in poverty, years after the recession officially ended," says Chris Watney, president and CEO of the Colorado Children's Campaign. According to Watney, this state has the second-fastest growing rate of child poverty in the nation.
For more than two decades, the Colorado Children's Campaign has been providing the annual Kids Count report, part of a national, state-by-state project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation that provides data for legislators, educators and community leaders on how health, education and early childhood experiences interact to influence 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 says. "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."
The 2014 Kids Count report also highlights some successes. Colorado has decreased the number of children who are uninsured: Between 2010 and 2012, 8 percent of Colorado kids were insured, down from 14 percent between 2004 and 2006. And it's seen an increase in the state's high school graduation rate, which reached 77 percent in 2013, up from 72 percent in 2010. But despite these encouraging statistics, Governor John Hickenlooper, recognizes there is still much to do.
"As we see the economic recovery growth, we need as a state to recognize and make sure that every county participates in that recovery and that we don't have a pocketful of poverty all across the state," says Hickenlooper.
The most worrisome stat in the report outlined the significant gap in child well-being based on race, ethnicity and income regarding reading achievement and health outcomes, Watney notes: "About a third of Hispanic and black children are overweight or obese, compared to less than a quarter of non-Hispanic white children."
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In conjunction with the Kids Count release, the Children's Campaign and child advocates from across the state distributed a two-foot-tall cardboard doll decorated by and representing Colorado kids to each legislator.
"We distributed dolls that you see around to every legislator in the Capitol to remind them how important is to remember children," Watney says, "as they are making big decisions here every day and how they impact the children's life and the state's future."
To download the full 2014 Kids Count report, visit Colorado Children's Campaign.