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Despite Progress, Disparities Persist for Colorado Kids of Color

Children of color frequently face disadvantages compared with their white peers including under-resourced schools. (Pixabay)
Children of color frequently face disadvantages compared with their white peers including under-resourced schools. (Pixabay)
October 24, 2017

DENVER – The "opportunity gap" between Colorado's children of color and white kids has narrowed but isn't going away, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that measures education, health and economic milestones by racial and ethnic groups.

Hispanic kids had the lowest scores statewide, and Tara Manthey with the Colorado Children's Campaign points out that while the vast majority of Colorado's 280,000 kids living in immigrant families are U.S. citizens, current immigration policies make this group especially vulnerable.

"There are tens of thousands of kids in Colorado who are at risk of being separated from their families," she warns. "And we know that when they are able to stay with their families and access good education, we all benefit from that."

Asian and Pacific Islander children in Colorado had the highest scores, according to the report, followed by whites, blacks, American Indian and Hispanic kids. Black children in Colorado scored above the national average for preschool, nursery school and kindergarten enrollment as well as fourth-grade reading proficiency.

Manthey praised the state's overall progress but says more can be done to help all of Colorado's kids succeed.

Laura Speer, the associate director of policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, notes that in nearly all states, African-American children face some of the greatest barriers to success.

"Kids of color especially are often disadvantaged based on where they live," she laments. "That means that the schools that they can attend are often less well resourced and they're less likely to be plugged-in to some of the things that can really make a difference in terms of children's long-term development."

This year's report is titled "Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children." Its recommendations include increasing access to education and healthcare, prioritizing keeping families together when enforcing immigration policy, and increasing economic opportunities and support for parents.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO