2012 Kids Count Report Shows Child Well-Being Varies Widely Across Colorado





Contact:  Shirley Ritter, Kids First, Executive Director 920-5363 or Shirley.ritter@ci.aspen.co.us

Aspen, Colorado – June 13, 2012, – Child well-being varies widely across Colorado, and where a child lives can substantially impact his or her chances for success, according to the 2012 KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, The Importance of Place:  Variations in Child Well-Being Across Colorado, released by the Colorado Children’s Campaign.  KIDS COUNT in Colorado! is an annual publication of the Children’s Campaign, providing state- and county-level data on a variety of child well-being indicators.

“Colorado’s future success relies on the extent to which we ensure that all Colorado children, in every county of the state, have access to the opportunities they need to succeed,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Even in tough times, we need to make certain that Colorado is a great state to be a kid.”

The county ranking the highest (best), based on the composite index, is Douglas County. Broomfield County ranks second, and Larimer County ranks third. The three counties ranking the lowest on the composite index are Denver, Morgan and Adams.  About 200,000 children (20 percent of all children in these 25 counties) live in the highest ranking counties, while more than 300,000 children (27 percent) live in the five counties with the lowest rankings.


One area that presents a challenge to families living in Pitkin County is that the cost of living is nearly 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. The Federal Poverty Level for a family of 4 is an annual income of $22,350. In Pitkin County that same family would need at least $89,400 just to live above the local “poverty” level.

Part of the high cost of living for families is that childcare can be as high as 34% of a family’s expenses; based on a family of four with a preschooler and an infant, according to the Colorado Center of Law and Policy, the self sufficiency standard for Colorado 20122. This leaves only 66% for housing, taxes, health care, food and transportation.

Because of this data, Kids First offers childcare financial aid for working families who make less than 400% of Federal Poverty Level. Kids First has long recognized the relative cost of living that severely limits the choices for families with young children.  First implemented in 1992, Kids First has provided childcare financial aid to over 1,200 families, investing over $3,400,000 over the last 20 years. This is a unique program to the City of Aspen; existing only because of voter approved funding of a .45% sales tax that funds childcare and affordable housing.  Shirley Ritter, Kids First Director said. “This tax and the childcare financial aid it provides has made an enormous positive impact in supporting an important segment of the workforce in Aspen and surrounding communities, allowing all parents to work and providing high quality childcare for their young children.”

In the health section, Pitkin County is right at the state average of 79% of women getting early pre-natal care; with only 7.7% of babies born at what is considered low birth-weight; the state is at 8.8%.

When it comes to K-12 education, Pitkin County reports 100% of children attend full day kindergarten; and can boast a 91% graduation rate in 2011. Also in 2011 Kids Counts shows that 103 children, 6% of the children in school qualified for free or reduced lunch, compared to the state – 40.9%.  

While Colorado students are performing above the national average on many subjects, as measured by the NAEP, there is still room for improvement. Additionally, looking only at statewide averages can paint a misleading picture of how well Colorado students are doing. Colorado has historically had large gaps in student achievement (as measured by the CSAP) based on free or reduced-price lunch (FRL) eligibility. Closing these gaps is important, because lower academic achievement is associated with lower rates of high school and college graduation, greater need for remediation, lower career earnings, increased incarceration rates, increased need for public assistance and a higher likelihood of living in poverty.

In 2011, Colorado’s achievement gap in math between students who were eligible for FRL and those who were not was 27 percentage points. In reading, the average gap between those students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and those not eligible was 31 percentage points. These achievement gaps persist across all subjects, all grade levels and all years for which CSAP data is available. For more information or to read the entire Kids Count 2012, go to http://www.coloradokids.org/. To learn more about how to advocate for young children contact Kids First at kids_first@ci.aspen.co.us or the Colorado Children’s Campaign http://www.coloradokids.org/action/.


Average Proficiency on the CSAP Reading by Free or Reduced Price Lunch Status by County


All Students


Eligible for Free or Reduced Price Lunch


Not Eligible for Free or Reduced Price Lunch


Average Proficiency on the CSAP Math by Free or Reduced Price Lunch Status by County


Eligible for Free or Reduced Price Lunch


Not Eligible for Free or Reduced Price Lunch





Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2012