More children in Colorado are facing poverty. According to the KIDS COUNT Data Book released today, the number of children in the state who live in high-poverty areas quintupled over the last 10 years. The report, which comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says the problem of poverty affects a child’s health and education.
According to Colorado Children’s Campaign president and CEO Chris Watney, poverty can even affect children when their own families do not face financial challenges.
“We see that kids who are surrounded by concentrated poverty, also are more likely to suffer from harmful levels of stress and behavioral and emotional problems, no matter what their family’s income is,” Watney said.
There is some good news found in the data. The number of uninsured children in the state is decreasing, and children are showing a small increase in test scores. However, there also remains a large disparity between minority and Caucasian families when it comes to educational, health, and economic well-being.
Summit County is one area particularly affected by the Great Recession. The resort community took a big hit as the economy crashed, and the recent weather trend hasn’t helped, explained Tamara Drangsteveit with the Summit County Family and Intercultural Resource Center.
“The lack of snow last year was sort of like pouring salt in the proverbial open wound,” she declared. “A lot of families who had just managed to hold on through the recession then found that last winter they again had fewer hours than they anticipated.”
According to the KIDS COUNT survey, the child poverty rate in Summit County doubled between 2005 and 2011. Drangsteveit said that because parents are having to work more jobs and more hours to make ends meet, they’re having trouble finding time to spend with their children to prepare them for school.
Chris Watney explained that job loss and an inability to find sustainable income has a domino effect that’s hard to stop.
“It does sort of trigger a cycle for families,” she said. “It’s not any one of these factors that I think keeps the cycle from going away, but it’s a combination of them.”
In this year’s KIDS COUNT DATA BOOK, Colorado placed 21st in the country in terms of overall child well-being, up a notch from 22nd last year.
View the full report at AECF.org.