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Kids Count Report Delivered To Lawmakers, Shows Decrease In Child Poverty

Bente Birkeland
Children visit the state capitol for the release of the annual Kids Count Report from the Colorado Children's Campaign.

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 nonprofit Colorado Children's Campaign tracked the data and released the report at the state capitol Monday. The 2015 edition of 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 1 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. The report's authors said that 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 wants to leave that up to lawmakers and instead just provide facts and statistical trends at the county level.

Read the full Kids Count report [.pdf].

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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