Local children face big challenges

By Tobie Baker Journal staff writer

With nearly 6,000 children calling it home, Montezuma County is one of the worst in Colorado for overall child well-being.

According to the 2013 Kids Count in Colorado report, more than one in four Montezuma County children lives in poverty, nearly one in three is overweight or obese, and nearly half of all fourth graders are not reading at grade level.

“According to the most recent Colorado Child Well-Being Index rankings, Montezuma County ranks 23rd out of the 25 largest counties in the state for overall child well-being,” said Colorado Children’s Campaign research director Sarah Hughes.

Hughes will address the report’s findings at a free community luncheon on Friday, July 12. Held at the First National Bank of Cortez community room, the two-hour event starts at 11:30 a.m.

“We know many children and families in Montezuma County are struggling with issues like poverty, lack of access to high-quality health care, or abuse and neglect,” she said. “Community discussions like these are an important first step to developing local solutions to address these issues.”

The study’s rankings are based on 12 key indicators: uninsured children, teen birth rates, low birth weights, infant mortality, obesity, single-parent families, poverty, births to school dropouts, families relying on low-cost food, fourth-grade reading levels, high school dropout rates and teens neither attending school nor working.

The 2013 Kids Count study reveals communities with poverty rates exceeding 30 percent are considered high-poverty areas. Using 2011 child population data, the study indicates that 26 percent of Montezuma County children live in poverty.

The lone bright spot in the report was the number of healthy babies born in Montezuma County. According to the study, Montezuma County topped the state’s ranking when it comes to having few babies born with low birth weight. The study shows only five percent of the county’s babies weighed less than five pounds, eight ounces, at birth.

Next week’s local unveiling of the 2013 Kids Count in Colorado report also includes presentations on the 2013 legislative session from Colorado Children’s Campaign government affairs director Dan O’Connell and ways to engage policy makers by Colorado Children’s Campaign coordinator Liz Houston.

Registration is required to attend the free community luncheon. The deadline to RSVP is Tuesday, July 9. For more, email liz@coloradokids.org.

To view or download the entire 2013 Kids Count in Colorado report, visit www.coloradokids.org.


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