Colorado ranked 22nd in child well-being survey | Community Spirit
Rise in concentrated poverty continues to limit state, despite gains in education and health
In a national report released today, Colorado ranks 22nd among states in overall child well-being, a position that reflects the state’s significant disparities in child health, education and economic well-being. The ranking is part of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report also ranks Colorado ninth in education outcomes, but 45th in health outcomes.
“While Colorado consistently falls in the middle of the overall list, a closer look shows that most of our children actually fare far above or far below average,” said Chris Watney, president and CEO of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “The numbers ultimately tell a story of many children who are doing well, but many who aren’t, and those gaps have increased over the past decade.”
Since 2000, Colorado has seen a 300 percent increase in children living in high-poverty areas. This trend mirrors those reported in the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, a statewide version of the report that includes a collection of child well-being indicators by county compiled by the Children’s Campaign.
“The rapid rise in child poverty in Colorado continues to strain the systems upon which children depend,” Watney said. “Even tremendous gains in opening up opportunities for quality education and extending health insurance to more children aren’t enough to ensure every child can thrive.”
The 2012 Data Book indicates kids and families in Colorado and nationwide continue to struggle in the wake of the recession. Colorado’s national rankings by topic:
- Economic Well-being: 16
- Education: 9
- Health: 45
- Family and Community: 25
Among individual indicators, Colorado’s worst ranking (48th) was in the percent of teens ages 12 to 17 who abused alcohol or drugs in the past year. The state was second only to Montana in that category.
The state’s best ranking of seventh among states was for the percent of eighth graders who scored below proficient in math. Since 2005, Colorado has seen that number drop by 16 percent. The state has also seen an 8 percent decline in the number of high school students not graduating on time, putting Colorado at 20th among states.
Colorado has reduced the number of uninsured children by 29 percent between 2008 and 2010, largely due to extending coverage to more children, reducing enrollment barriers, and more children becoming eligible because of declining family incomes during the recession. However, while Colorado has made great gains in improving access to health coverage, the state still ranks lower than most other states in this area—especially those with high rankings in education and family economic well-being.
“While Colorado is known as one of the healthiest states in some measurements,” Watney said, “when it comes to kids, our statistics on numbers of low-birthweight babies, teens abusing drugs, and youth access to health care shows that our state is becoming unhealthier as these children grow up.”
The 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks each state based on their performance across 16 child well-being indicators, as opposed to 10 in previous years, divided equally under for key domains—Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. The revamped Data Book with state-by-state rankings and supplemental data are available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org.
Follow the Annie E. Casey Foundation on this issue on Twitter @aeckidscount and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.