Colorado’s childhood poverty rate has decreased for the first time in five years. The latest data comes as part of the annual Kids Count Report, which offers information on the health and well being of children across the state.
“That is great news for Colorado,” said Lt. Governor Joe Garcia. He went on to add that there’s always a but. “We know that there are still far too many children growing up in households where they don’t have access to the opportunities and resources they need to be healthy and succeed."
The non-profit Colorado Children’s Campaign tracked the data and released the report at the state capitol on Monday. This year the study compared how children fare much differently depending on if they live in rural, urban or suburban parts of the state.
“On average child poverty rates were the highest in Colorado’s rural communities, with nearly a quarter of rural children living poverty, about 23 percent,” said Chris Watney, executive director of the Colorado Children’s Campaign.
That’s compared to 17 percent statewide, a one percent decline from the previous year.
“You may think that doesn’t necessarily sound like dramatic news, but for those 17,000 families and kids and whose families may now be able to meet their basic needs, and we’ve been standing in front of you year after year and talking about dramatic increases in poverty so I really do think this is worthy of our optimism and I’m very hopeful this is a trend we’ll see continue,” said Watney.
Other positive trends include more children with health insurance; and a significant drop in the teen pregnancy rate. But the report’s authors say while poverty rates are down, childhood poverty is still twice as high compared to the year 2000.
The report does not recommend specific policies. The Children’s Campaign said they want to leave that up to lawmakers and instead just provide facts and statistical trends at the county level.