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Colorado Rounding Curve on Childhood Poverty

According to new data, the childhood poverty rate in Colorado has decreased since 2011. (Pixabay)
According to new data, the childhood poverty rate in Colorado has decreased since 2011. (Pixabay)
September 21, 2016

DENVER - Childhood poverty has decreased significantly in Colorado since its peak in 2011, according to new data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the poverty rate in Colorado grew to 18 percent, or nearly one in five kids. Since then, however, the rate has come down to 15 percent, one of the biggest drops in the country.

Sarah Hughes, research director for the Colorado Children's Campaign, said the state is making progress but many families haven't recovered from the Great Recession, and some 180,000 kids still are living in poverty.

"But we still have many communities in our state, primarily in rural areas," she said, "where they're still waiting to feel the effects of the economic growth that's happening in some other areas of Colorado."

Nationally, the child poverty rate also has decreased from its peak of 23 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2015.

Although rates dropped among all children, African-American and Latino children are still three times more likely to live in poverty. Hughes said children pay a price when all people aren't afforded equal opportunities.

"Those disparities are largely due to the fact that we as a society have not always done the best job at ensuring that people of color have the same opportunities and the same chances for success as their white peers," she said.

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, said poverty in the United States means an annual income of about $24,000 for a family of four. She said it's a very low bar and not a lot of money to get by.

"Families are making really difficult choices on what bills to pay," she said. "Most of these families are working. They have jobs that are not paying well enough to support the family, on the whole."

The analysis is online at aecf.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO