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Colorado Kids in Middle of Pack for Well-Being

More than 95 percent of children now have health-care coverage due to expansions of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act. (Getty Images)
More than 95 percent of children now have health-care coverage due to expansions of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act. (Getty Images)
June 13, 2017

DENVER – Colorado ranks 22nd nationally for overall child well-being in this year's Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

But the state slipped four spots in the report's economic category, from 12th to 16th. More than 180,000 children in the state live in families struggling to make ends meet.

Sarah Hughes, research director of the Colorado Children's Campaign, says as Congress considers cutting programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, the report should be a wake-up call.

"This really is not a time to back away from a lot of these public policies and targeted investments that we've seen in our kids' health care and economics and education," she says.

Colorado has one of the largest declines in the percentage of children without health insurance, dropping from 10 percent to just four percent over five years.

Hughes believes the state improved from 22nd to 19th for family and community well-being in large part because state lawmakers have prioritized family-planning programs. The state also continues to boast a lower-than-average rate of births to teen mothers.

The Data Book focuses on key trends since the recession and measures child well-being in four areas: economic, education, health and family and community.

The Casey Foundation's Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy, says getting accurate data to policy makers is important, and notes the foundation has been tracking these indicators for more than 25 years.

"Because we believe in the importance of really getting a clear, unbiased measure of child well-being over time, we want folks to use this information to make good decisions so that we can maintain the gains that we've been able to achieve," Speer explains.

Nationally, the report found that 95 percent of children now have health-care coverage, a historic high, mostly because of expansions of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program under the Affordable Care Act.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO