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1/24/2013 Report Card On Our Kids


The Colorado Children’s Campaign has issued its annual report, “Kids Count in Colorado,” which assesses some basic data as it relates to the health, education and economic support of kids in all 64 Colorado counties.

For our kids in Custer County, there are some good advancements when it comes to educational achievements. But there remain some serious problems related to childhood poverty and household economics.

First the good news: Custer County kids lead their statewide counterparts in all educational achievements except two. Nearly 52% of students here score proficient or above in math in CSAP scores, compared to about 56% percent statewide, with similar scores tallied for writing.  But our local kids lead in reading (73.5% vs. 70%) and science (54% vs. 47.8%). Last year, we lagged in nearly all categories. And our high school graduation rate is more than 92% compared to the state average of 73.9% (last year, it was 86% here and 72.4% statewide).

The number of local children who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches is a full 44.5%, compared to 40.9% statewide (last year those numbers were 36.8% here and 38.4% statewide). And the number of kids under the age of 18 who live in poverty here stands at 27.8%, more than a full ten percentage points greater than the state average of 17.1% (last year it was 25.1% here and 16.6% statewide).

The percentage of kids here enrolled in Medicaid total 39.3% vs. 29.5% statewide (it was 34% here last year and 29% statewide).

Part of the poverty issues here can be attributed to a decline in household income. This year, the median household income in Custer County stands at $42,951 compared to $45,898 last year (statewide those numbers declined to $54,411 from $55,735).

The report says our child population totals 725, or 17% of the county’s total population (last year, there were 743 kids, or 18.4% of total population.) It’s gratifying that some small improvements are noted in education, but it remains troubling that so many of our kids experience economic hardship.