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Gazette Premium Content Report: Economy taking toll on Colorado kids

BARBARA COTTER Updated: August 16, 2011 at 12:00 am

A national charitable foundation that focuses on the well-being of America’s children has added two categories to a list of factors that affect kids, and Colorado ranks in the bottom half of both.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2011 Kids Count report puts Colorado in a cluster of seven states that tied for 38th place on a list measuring the percentage of children affected by foreclosure since 2007. In the category of “children with at least one unemployed parent,” Colorado ranked 30th, along with six other states.

According to the report, 4 percent of Colorado’s children, or 86,000 kids, were affected by foreclosure, while 11 percent, or 132,000, had at least one unemployed parent.

“What we’re concerned about with foreclosure and unemployed parents for kids is the stress on them,” said Lisa Piscopo, vice president of research for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group that works with the Casey Foundation. “You’re moving them from their schools, they’re losing their homes — it’s really stressful for them.”

The Casey Foundation said the stress plays out long-term and is bad not only for the kids, but for the well-being of the country.

“Without positive action, these conditions will put a substantial portion of the nation’s children at risk for adverse educational, health, and other negative outcomes that may limit their future productivity and our country’s long-term economic stability,” says the report, released Tuesday evening.

The Casey Foundation proposes several strategies to improve the future for U.S. children. Among them: strengthen and modernize unemployment insurance; promote foreclosure prevention and remediation; and preserve and strengthen  programs that supplement poverty-level wages, offset child care costs and provide health insurance coverage for parents and children.

The report piggybacks on a similar one issued in March by the Colorado Children’s Campaign that indicated the country’s economic problems have taken a disproportionate toll on Colorado. From 2008 to 2009, the number of Colorado children living in poverty went up by 17 percent, one of the fastest-growing rates in the U.S.

“Colorado kids are already struggling,” Piscopo said. “I don’t expect the numbers to be better for 2010.”

There was some good news in the report, which tracks 10 key indicators of a child’s well-being, excluding the two new categories.

Colorado improved in five of the indicators: the infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen death rate, teen birth rate and percent of teens not in school and not high school graduates. Two measures were unchanged, and three worsened: the percent of low birthweight babies, percent of children in poverty, and percent of children in single-parent families.

Overall, Colorado fell from 20th to 25th in the rankings, but Piscopo said the decline isn’t significant, because the state has been ranked between 22 and 27 in the past 10 years.
The report does not drill down to the local level within each state; the Colorado Children’s Campaign report in the spring offers more county-by-county statistics.

 

The best/the worst
Kids Count rankings for child well-being
1. New Hampshire
2. Minnesota
3. Massachusetts
4. Vermont
5. New Jersey
6. Connecticut
7. Utah
8. Iowa
9. Nebraska
10. North Dakota
11. Maine
12. Wisconsin
13. Washington
14. Virginia
15. New York
16. California
17. Rhode Island
18. Oregon
19. Kansas
20. Pennsylvania
21. South Dakota
22. Idaho
23. Maryland
24. Delaware
25. Colorado
26. Hawaii
27. Illinois
28. Wyoming
29. Ohio
30. Michigan
31. Indiana
32. Alaska
33. Montana
34. Missouri
35. Texas
36. Florida
37. Arizona
38. North Carolina
39. Tennessee
40. Nevada
41. Kentucky
42. Georgia
43. Oklahoma
44. West Virginia
45. South Carolina
46. New Mexico
47. Arkansas
48. Alabama
49. Louisiana
50. Mississippi

 

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