DENVER – While the state of Colorado may be experiencing an economic boom, with the lowest unemployment rate in the country, kids are not sharing in the economic well-being, according to a recently-released report.
Colorado's ranking in child economic well-being fell from 12th in 2016 to 16th in 2017, with an overall national ranking of 22nd in the 2017 KIDS COUNT. The report notes that the state's child poverty rates, which remains lower than the national average, showed little improvement relative to the rest of the country. More than 180,000 Colorado kids are living in families struggling to make ends meet.
Officials from the Colorado Children's Campaign, a non-profit advocacy group, say children are being left behind in one of the nation’s hottest economies.
"An economy as strong as ours should advance the well-being of us all - especially our children," said Kelly Causey, President and CEO of the Colorado Children's Campaign. "However, too many children and families aren't benefiting from one of the hottest economies in the nation.”
The report also found 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.
Other key findings and trends from the report include:
- At 15 percent in 2015, child poverty in Colorado remains below the national average of 21 percent, but this still represents more than 180,000 Colorado kids living in families struggling to make ends meet.
- In 2015, a quarter of Colorado kids lived in a family where no parent had full-time, year-round employment. Although Colorado maintained its number 10 ranking on this indicator, nearly 10,000 more kids lived in families where no parent had secure employment in 2015 than in 2014.
- Colorado ranks 43rd in graduation rate, with 23 percent of high school students not graduating on time in 2014-2015.
- In Colorado, 23 percent of high school students did not graduate on time in 2014-15. While the rate of students not graduating on time in Colorado has improved slightly in the past five years, it remains above the national average of 17 percent.
- Scores in Colorado on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is used to measure proficiency in reading and math, declined in 2015. Fewer than two-thirds of Colorado's fourth graders scored below proficient in reading in 2015 and 63 percent of eighth graders scored below proficient in math.
- On average, 48 percent of Colorado 3- and 4-year olds were enrolled in school between 2013 and 2015, the seventh highest percentage of any state.
- Colorado has seen one of the largest declines of any state in the percentage of children without health insurance. The percentage of Colorado kids lacking health insurance dropped by more than half in the past five years, from 10 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2015. Colorado now ranks 16th among states for this indicator, up from 30th last year.
- The number of Colorado teens ages 12 to 17 who abused drugs or alcohol in the past year has declined steadily since 2009-2010, dropping from 36,000 to 26,000 in 2013-2014.
Family and Community
- Between 2010 and 2015, Colorado was among the states that saw the second largest decrease in births to females ages 15 to 19. The teen birth rate dropped 42 percent during that time, from 33 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in 2010 to 19 births per 1,000 women in 2015.
- About 28 percent of Colorado children live in single-parent families, compared to 35 percent nationwide.