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COVID Economic Shock Puts Decade of Children's Progress at Risk


Thursday, June 24, 2021   

DENVER - Colorado ranks 15th in the nation for overall child well-being, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2021 Kids Count Data Book, which explores how children fared during the COVID health emergency.

Sarah Hughes - vice president for research initiatives with the Colorado Children's Campaign - said in the past ten years, Colorado saw steady declines in its child poverty rate and an improving uninsured rate, but she says that progress could be at risk unless policymakers double down on recovery efforts.

"We now have tens of thousands of people who aren't confident that they will be able to make their next mortgage or rent payment on time, that don't have access to enough food to eat, that are really struggling with their mental health," said Hughes.

Even before COVID, Colorado struggled with housing affordability and a higher-than-average child and teen mortality rate. At the onset of the pandemic last year, 20% of Colorado adults living in households with children reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless.

By last March, that figure had risen to 25%, or one in four Colorado adults.

The report suggests policymakers can repair damage caused by COVID and also address historic inequities. Leslie Boissiere, vice president for external affairs for the Casey Foundation, said the Data Book reveals persistent racial and ethnic disparities.

"If you look at families who were anxious about either being evicted or losing their homes, the overall number was about 20%, so one in five," said Boissiere. "If you look at the number of Black and Latino families, it was more like one in three."

The Child Tax Credit was expanded in the American Rescue Plan. Hughes said making the credit permanent will help the state's economy recover by getting financial support directly to families who lost jobs and income.

"This is going to be money in the pockets of families that they can use to buy diapers, to buy school supplies, to pay for child care," said Hughes, "to maybe pay for a tutor to help with some of the catching up that some kids might need to do as a result of the COVID pandemic."

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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