Annual ‘Kids Count’ report reveals lower child poverty rates, racial disparity in Weld County | MyWindsorNow.com

Annual ‘Kids Count’ report reveals lower child poverty rates, racial disparity in Weld County

Kelly Ragan
kragan@greeleytribune.com

— Fewer children in Weld County are living in poverty than have in many years, which is a sign of recovery from the Great Recession, according to the annual "Kids Count in Colorado!" report.

The report, sponsored by the Colorado Children's Campaign, showed about 14 percent of Weld's children lived in poverty in 2016 compared to 16.8 percent in 2015. The state sits at 13 percent. This year, adjusting for inflation, the federal government set the poverty line at $24,000 for a family of four.

"That's good news," said Sarah Hughes, research director with the Colorado Children's Campaign at a "2017 Kids Count in Colorado!" presentation Thursday at the Riverside Library.

While the poverty level has shrunk, Weld also has seen explosive growth in child population over the past decade, to the tune of 13,000, Hughes said. That's 20 percent growth in Weld, compared to there rest of Colorado's 8 percent growth.

But Weld still struggles with child poverty, especially among people of color, and that population increase puts a strain on the resources designed to help them, including housing, child care and health care, Hughes said.

This year, the Kids Count survey broke data down by race to discover and examine disparities in the community.

Recommended Stories For You

In Weld, for example, about 10 percent of children in poverty were white; 25 percent were Hispanic and Latino, Hughes said. That reflects the state average.

The link between poverty and race doesn't indicate certain groups are smarter or worker harder than others, Hughes said. Instead, it reveals the long-term impact policies have on wealth.

"It's not a coincidence or based on individual behaviors," she said. "We can usually trace it back to polices and practices that have affected different groups of people."

In her presentation, Hughes used redlining as an example. In the early 1930s, she said the federal government started backing long-term, low-interest home loans, recognizing that homeownership was a gateway to the middle class and a way for families to pass wealth from generation to generation. When the government started to provide those loans, they mapped out cities and colored areas green, blue, yellow and red. Green and blue indicated areas the government deemed worthy of investment. Red indicated areas the government deemed unworthy of the loans, Hughes said. Those in the red zones weren't filled with people who couldn't qualify for the loans, they were filled with people of color, Hughes said.

"We excluded them from a wealth building opportunity," Hughes said. "We're still feeling the impact of those polices."

The disparities continued as the Kids Count Survey dug into child health data, infant mortality, graduation rates and more.

Kid's health coverage overall has been a success story so far, Hughes said, despite the disparities.

In 2015, 3.9 percent of children in Weld were uninsured compared to 4.4 percent statewide. About 4.1 percent of children in Weld were eligible for Medicaid, CHP+ or subsidies but were not enrolled, compared to 5.6 percent statewide. However, the data revealed racial disparities. About 3.4 percent of non-Hispanic white children in Colorado were uninsured in 2015 compared to 6 percent of Hispanic children and 13.3 percent of Native American and Alaskan native children.

Those numbers could change soon, as Congress did not vote to extend funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

"If it's not renewed," Hughes said, "We could see 90,000 kids lose coverage. We're definitely keeping an eye on that."

Colorado has some funding to feed the program for the next couple of months.

Furthermore, African-American babies continue to see higher rates of infant mortality.

Hughes said some studies suggest those deaths are related to higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, found in African-American women.

"Experiencing discrimination and lacking the thing you need to be healthy can have a very tangible impact on health," Hughes said. "It can impact the health of the baby as well."

Colorado's overall graduation rate has improved since 2010, according to the survey. It rose to 79 percent overall in 2016 from 72 percent in 2010. In Weld County, the graduation rate is 81 percent.

About 84 percent of white students graduate on time statewide, according to the survey, while 62 percent of Native American children, 70 percent of Hispanic and Latino children and 72 percent of African-American children graduate on time.

"Racial equity is making sure the color of a child's skin has no impact on their outcomes in life," Hughes said. "We really do have to focus on making sure kids of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have a chance."

To see the survey

To see the results of the “2017 Kids Count in Colorado!” survey, go to http://www.coloradokids.org.

Go back to article