Working for children
KidsCount statistics unveiled
Steamboat Springs — It takes a healthy family, neighborhood and community to help a child succeed, one of the state’s leading children’s advocates said Wednesday night.
Bruce Atchison, vice president of the Colorado Children’s Campaign, talked about the health and well being of children in Routt County in comparison to the region and the state.
“You come out looking good,” he said. “People are working hard to do good things for kids.”
Atchison unveiled local statistics from the soon-to-be-released KidsCount 2003. The preview included insightful information about school readiness, single-parent families, poverty and teen dropouts in 2000.
The Colorado Children’s Campaign annually compiles KidsCount information about children in all counties in the state.
Routt County falls into the same region as Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin and Summit counties.
The project revealed a higher percentage of working parents in Routt County in 2000 than in the rest of the region and the state.
Almost 70 percent of children younger than 6 had parents who both worked. That’s in comparison to 62.5 percent of children in the region and 58.9 percent in the state.
“You have a huge working parent population,” Atchison said.
Those numbers create a huge demand for high quality childcare that prepares young children for kindergarten, he added.
About 23 percent of families in Routt County had one parent in 2000. A total of 250 children, and one in five families with single mothers, were living in poverty.
Many more children in the county than revealed in the data are dealing with poverty, Atchison said, but their families’ financial situation does not meet the federal government’s definition of poverty. Their families are poor, but their parents are making too much.
“It’s not fair to resort communities that have a higher cost of living,” he said.
Atchison commended Routt County for maintaining relationships with its representatives in the State Legislature in a time when money for children’s programs has run dry.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” he said. “Our economy is in a decline. Kids’ programs are suffering.”
The situation will get worse before it gets better, he said. He encouraged people to look ahead to when the economic picture is not so dismal and the money for children’s programs is available.
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