Study says Colorado led nation in child poverty increase |

Study says Colorado led nation in child poverty increase

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Calling it a troubling trend, state officials and a child support group released a report Tuesday that said Colorado led the nation with a 73 percent increase in the number of children living in poverty.

Megan Ferland, president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, said during a six-year period beginning in 2000, the number of children in poverty soared from 104,000 to 180,000, leaving many families without hope of breaking the poverty cycle.

She said poverty is the biggest obstacle to opportunity for children and the impact can last a lifetime.

“Kids growing up in poverty often struggle with educational, health, emotional and behavioral difficulties, and a range of other challenges that decrease their chances of success and often rob them of hope at an early age. This is a trend our children, and our state, cannot afford,” Ferland said.

She cited U.S. Census Bureau figures that show that more than 180,000 of Colorado’s children, or 15.7 percent, live below the Federal Poverty Level, defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as $21,200 for a family of four in 2008.

Gov. Bill Ritter said his administration has launched a number of initiatives to tackle the problem since taking office in 2007, including programs to help struggling children in school, provide better health care and prevent family violence, which all have roots in poverty.

“As adults, we have an urgent obligation to ensure that poverty does not determine our children’s future,” Ritter said.

Ferland cited trends in several areas that are affecting the overall poverty rate increase, including the number of children living in single-parent households; the availability of jobs paying a living wage for low-skilled workers; the changing demographics of the state that increased the number of Hispanics in poverty; and the number of students who drop out of high school or do not acquire enough education to make a good living.

The group said the report also contains good news that the statewide teen birth rate has declined, immunizations are increasing and smoking and drug use has declined.