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Thousands of CO Kids at Risk of Not Being Counted in 2020 Census

Colorado ranks 17th nationally in child education, largely due to high rates of preschool enrollment relative to other states. (AECF)
Colorado ranks 17th nationally in child education, largely due to high rates of preschool enrollment relative to other states. (AECF)
June 27, 2018

DENVER – Colorado ranks 20th in child well being, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book that ranks all states in health, education, economic well being, and family and community.

Tara Manthey, vice president of advocacy and communications with Colorado Children's Campaign, says the state's above average ranking could be at risk if all children aren't accounted for in the 2020 Census.

She says that one in five of the state's youngest children is at risk of not being counted and as many as 62,000 children under five live in communities considered hard to count.

"Because it helps us know where to build schools, hospitals, parks and those kinds of fundamental infrastructure things,” she explains. “But also helps Colorado receive its share of federal money to support kids who have a lot barriers to success."

Manthey says the state scored high in economic well being overall, but Colorado children of color are far more likely to encounter barriers to health and education.

Colorado ranked 17th in education, mainly due to high preschool enrollment. But the state continues to struggle with low-weight births and teen substance abuse, factors Manthey says contributed to the state's poor score, 42nd nationally, for child health.

Nationally, the report shows a rebounding economy has helped many families. One-point-six million fewer children are living in poverty, more parents have jobs, and fewer families are spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing.

Laura Speer, associate director of policy reform and advocacy with The Casey Foundation, says one in five children are still living in poverty.

"That means about 14 million children living in households that don't have enough income, really, to get by,” she states. “The trends are going in the right direction, but it's still too many kids and their families who are struggling just to make ends meet."

The young child, under count has gotten worse with every census since 1980, with one million children missed in 2010.

Speer says to get a more accurate count, the census should fully fund state and local outreach, and ramp up efforts to reach hard-to-count areas.

Speer notes participation rates could dramatically drop if the agency adds a controversial question about U.S. citizenship, and says it's critical that government officials guarantee that respondents' information will be protected.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO