Hot Sheet

Report: Some gains but also big gaps in welfare of Colorado kids

Author: Dan Njegomir - June 19, 2017 - Updated: June 19, 2017

iStock photo / Ondrooo

Despite narrowing the gap on children without health coverage, Colorado continues to lag behind most states in overall children’s health. That’s one of the noteworthy conclusions of a report issued last week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and touted by the mainstay Colorado kids’ advocacy, the Colorado Children’s Campaign.

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book also found that Colorado slid from 12th place among the states last year to 16th place this year for the general economic welfare of children. The report attributed Colorado’s lost ground in that regard to little improvement compared with other states in child poverty, the burden of housing costs on families and the percentage of teens not in school and not working.

The Children’s Campaign issued a press release summarizing the report’s findings and zeroing in on the state’s dismal performance in overall children’s health by the lights of the Casey Foundation:

Colorado ranks among the bottom 10 states for the health of its children, holding steady at 43rd in the health category. However, the state has seen one of the largest declines of any state in the percentage of children without health insurance. Despite ranking highly for children’s health insurance coverage, Colorado’s percentages of low-birthweight babies and teen drug and alcohol abuse contribute to its low overall health ranking. Altitude is one contributor to low birthweight, but factors such as smoking during pregnancy, poor prenatal nutrition, poverty and stress also increase the risk of low birthweight.

The group’s president, Kelly Causey, is quoted:

“An economy as strong as ours should advance the well-being of us all — especially our children … However, too many children and families aren’t benefiting from one of the hottest economies in the nation. Imagine the prosperity Colorado would enjoy if we invested equally in the health and education of our children as we do in growing our economy.”

The campaign noted some good news in the report, as well, including that Colorado rose from 22nd to 19th among all states for what the report calls family and community well-being.  It includes factors like lower-than-average rate of births to teen mothers as well as lower-than-average percentages of children living in single-parent families and children living in high-poverty neighborhoods.

For that, Causey praised Colorado policy makers:

“The impact public policy has on the well-being of kids is clear … Colorado’s innovative approaches to comprehensive family planning are showing immediate and sustained impacts on our families with the greatest obstacles to self-sufficiency. When women are able to determine their futures, we all benefit.”

You can read the full report linked above; here’s the link again to the Children’s Campaign’s press statement, which offers an extensive summary of the findings.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.