Denver » A new study shows more Colorado children were living in poverty in 2012 than at the bottom of the economic downturn, numbers that officials see as evidence of the impact of generations of marginalization.
The study, reported on Monday by the Denver Post and other newspapers in the state, is the latest annual report by the Colorado Children’s Campaign. It found about 18 percent of the 1.2 million Coloradans under 18 were living in poverty in 2012, more than during the deepest part of the recession in the late 2000s. Colorado’s rate was below the national rate of 23 percent, but the state’s rate had grown faster than in almost every other state in the nation since 2000, the researchers found.
In a letter accompanying the study, Gov. John Hickenlooper said it shows "the long-term impact that poverty and lack of opportunity have on our state’s children...."
Researchers found that 29 percent of Colorado families in poverty were led by householders with no high school diploma, and expressed concern about the chances for educational and other achievement for children in those homes.
Poverty, the study’s authors wrote, can mean "spending free time not doing homework or participating in after school sports, but instead taking care of younger siblings because the family can’t afford child care. If the child lives in a high-poverty community, all too often it means attending schools with outdated textbooks or leaking roofs. Finally, after enough years of enduring the constant stressful cycle of poverty, it often means the loss of hope for the future."
And often, one impoverished generation’s legacy to the next is more poverty.
As the state grows more diverse, poverty’s impact on different racial and ethnic groups is of particular concern. The research found that the Great Recession had a particularly hard impact on black children who already were more likely than white children to be living in poverty. The poverty rate among African-American children in Colorado rose from 28 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in 2012. About a third of Hispanic children and a fifth of children of two or more races were living in poverty, with those rates remaining fairly stable over the five years.
Among non-Hispanic white children, the poverty rate increased from 8 percent in 2007 to 10 percent in 2012.
While most — 57 percent of — children in Colorado were non-Hispanic whites, other children, particularly Hispanics, make up an increasing portion of the population. In 2000, 24 percent of Colorado’s children were Hispanic; that had increased to 31 percent by 2012.
The number of young Coloradans who are either foreign-born or have at least one foreign-born parent has grown slightly, from about 19 percent in 2005 to 22 percent in 2012. The poverty rate for these children in immigrant families was 27 percent in 2012, compared to 16 percent for children in U.S.-born families.
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