The number of Colorado children living in communities stricken with poverty has nearly quadrupled over the past decade â€“ rising from 20,000 to 92,000 â€“ according to the KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Statewide, eight percent of children live in high-poverty communities, which is below the national rate of eleven percent. However, the problem is growing faster in Colorado than in the rest of the country: Coloradoâ€™s percent increase in children living in poverty since 2000 was greater than every state except Alaska and Vermont.
The Childrenâ€™s Corridor, which runs from Denverâ€™s Five Points neighborhood to Green Valley Ranch and Original Aurora, has one of the fastest growing child populations in the state â€“ and many of those children live in high-poverty areas. Of the 36,759 Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools students living in the Corridor, 79% qualify for free and reduced lunch, which means their families are living at or near poverty.
“Chris Watney, president and CEO of Colorado Children’s Campaign, says it is one of the biggest increases in the country – and it seems counterintuitive, because Colorado still is below the national rate of about 11 percent of children living in high-poverty communities.
“‘Our kids are faring worse, as far as trends. The thing that’s so alarming in Colorado is the rate at which this figure is growing. If it continues to grow at this rate, we will surpass the national average pretty quickly.’
“Watney says access to education – especially at the pre-kindergarten level – and health care can help break the cycle of poverty in neighborhoods.”
Here is how the child population of the Childrenâ€™s Corridor breaks down by neighborhood hub:
- Near Northeast has 5,888 children; 86% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
- Globeville and Elyria Swansea have 3,313 children; 95% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
- North and Northeast Park Hill have 4,377 children; 72% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
- Stapleton has 3,516 children; 10% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
- Montbello has 11,137 children; 90% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
- Green Valley Ranch has 10,074 children; 68% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
- East Colfax and Original Aurora have 15,534 children; 83% of public school students qualify for free or reduced price lunch
The Public News Service article notes that, according to the KIDS COUNT report, â€śAfrican-American, American Indian and Hispanic children are six to nine times more likely to live in high-poverty communities than their white counterparts.â€ť Among the Childrenâ€™s Corridorâ€™s 54,000 youth, 56.5% are Hispanic, 20.8% are African-American and 14.5% are white.
Data Sources: KIDS COUNT Data Snapshot; U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Decennial Census; Denver Public Schools and Aurora Public Schools October count, 2010.
Data Note: The KIDS COUNT analysis looked at the percent of children living in areas where more than 30% of the population is under the federal poverty level, based on the American Community Survey 2006-2010 data release. This is not a direct comparison with the free and reduced lunch participation, which measures the percent of public school students whose families are living under 180% of the federal poverty level.