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Pikes Peak regions sees rise in child poverty rate

March 28, 2016 Updated: March 28, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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The Pikes Peak region's child poverty rates remained above pre-recession levels in 2014 - bucking a promising statewide trend, a report released Monday showed.

The share of El Paso County children living in poverty rose to 15.4 percent, while Teller County's rate declined slightly to 14.8 percent, according to the annual Kids Count report.

Both counties' rates hewed closely to the state's average of 15.6 percent that year, but they failed improve as much as elsewhere in the state.

The statewide child poverty average dropped a second consecutive year in 2014, reaching levels not seen since the Great Recession.

Meanwhile, the Pikes Peak region remained far above 2007 levels, when 13.2 percent of El Paso County children were impoverished and 12 percent of Teller County children lived in poverty.

"That just shows that there are a lot of El Paso County kids and families that still haven't felt the full effect of the economic recovery," said Sarah Hughes, research director for the Colorado Children's Campaign, which compiled the report.

The Kids Count report is released every year and offers one of the clearest pictures of how children are faring across the state. It examines dozens of trends regarding childhood well-being, including education scores and health habits.

Despite the statewide drop in child poverty, more children became homeless, the report found.

El Paso County saw a 13 percent rise in child homelessness during the 2014-2015 school year, representing an extra 232 children without homes. In Teller County, three fewer students became homeless.

Other areas of the state fared worse.

An extra 900 students became homeless in Denver County during the 2014-2015 school year, a 41 percent spike, according to statistics from the Colorado Department of Education. Mesa County saw a 68 percent jump after an additional 264 students went homeless.

A lack of affordable housing could be to blame, Hughes said. In addition, federal poverty levels are far below what families must actually earn to make ends meet - especially when considering the high cost of child care, she said.

In 2014, the federal government defined poverty as a family of two earning $15,730 a year or a family of four earning $23,850.

"The numbers confirmed what we've been hearing on the ground," Hughes said.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter: @jakobrodgers

Facebook: Jakob Rodgers

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