State Minimum Wage – Colorado

Minimum wage fight: Raise it or not?, By Alicia Stice, September 23, 2016, The Coloradoan: “When an unexpected expense comes up — like the time her 9-year-old black lab, Libby, racked up a $700 vet bill — Lauren Gutierrez knows it’s time to pick up extra shifts.  In Fort Collins where she grew up, Gutierrez cannot afford to live alone.  This semester, she dropped two of her classes at Front Range Community College because the full course load was too much to handle along with her long shifts working as a caregiver for elderly residents.  Living as a low-wage worker has inspired Gutierrez to volunteer for the campaign to raise Colorado’s minimum wage from $8.31 an hour to $12 an hour by 2020, with increases every year in between…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

  • Fewer Colorado kids living in poverty, but more identified as homeless, By Yesenia Robles, March 28, 2016, Denver Post: “The number of Colorado kids living in poverty in 2014 decreased for the second year in a row, but the number of kids identified as homeless doubled in the past six years, according to a report published Monday. The annual Kids Count  report by the nonprofit Colorado Children’s Campaign found about 15 percent of kids in Colorado under age 18 are living in poverty, down from 17 percent in 2013. The number is down to levels not seen since before the recession…”
  • Report: Fewer homeless students in Larimer Co., By Sarah Jane Kyle, March 27, 2016, Coloradoan: “The number of homeless students in Larimer County decreased by 1 percent last year. More than 1,700 students were served by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Program in Larimer County in Fall 2014, a reduction of 25 students from the previous school year. Larimer County was one of just two large Colorado counties to see a reduction in homeless students from the 2013-2014 to 2014-2015 school years, according to the 2016 Kids Count report by Colorado Children’s Campaign. Douglas County saw a 6 percent drop in its number of homeless students. Statewide, the number of homeless students increased by 2.5 percent, between the two measured years, even though the 2013 floods displaced a large number of Colorado families…”

Supportive Housing Program – Denver, CO

Denver initiative would tap $8.7 million from investors to house the homeless, By Jon Murray, January 12, 2016, Denver Post: “Denver officials on Tuesday will unveil long-awaited details of a novel $8.7 million ‘social impact bond’ contract that would draw on private dollars to house and rehabilitate 250 of its most chronically homeless.  In the proposed arrangement, investors providing startup money to the city could earn back as much as $11.7 million — including up to $3 million in bonuses — or they could lose out on full repayment.  It all would depend on how well the program keeps participants out of jail, the emergency room, detox and other costly services in the next five years — saving the city millions of dollars a year. Each client would get housing and a case manager along with mental health or drug counseling, if needed…”

Cliff Effect of Public Assistance Programs

Why getting ahead often feels like falling behind when you’re poor, By Megan Verlee, November 3, 2015, Colorado Public Radio: “Call it poverty’s ‘glass ceiling.’ The way many public benefit programs are structured, even minor increases in income can result in a big loss in assistance. That’s sometimes so large a loss that it can send families tumbling backwards just when they thought they were finally getting ahead. Longmont resident Tracey Jones knows all about the phenomenon, often called the ‘cliff effect.’ She’s been living at its edge for several years now…”

Wage Gap – Colorado

Report: Persistent wage gap contributing to poverty among women, By Alicia Wallace, October 27, 2015, Denver Post: “In 2004, the last time the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released state-by-state wage gap data, Colorado’s women earned a median salary of $32,200, or 78.7 percent of their male counterparts.  More than a decade later, women are earning 80 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

Percent of Colorado kids in poverty down for first time since 2008, By Tom McGhee and Yesenia Robles, March 23, 2015, Denver Post: “For the first time since 2008, the percentage of Colorado children living in poverty decreased, but the recovery has been spotty, with minority kids and those in rural areas still facing the highest rates of child poverty, according to a new report.  ‘This is great news for Colorado,’ Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said Monday at the unveiling of the annual Colorado Kids Count report. ‘But we know there are far too many children growing up in households where they don’t have the resources they need.’  The report measured poverty — defined as those living in households with income levels at, or below, $23,550 for a family of four — among children in 2013, the last year that statistics were available. It found that 17 percent of the state’s 1.2 million children lived in poverty…”

Foster Care Youth and Post-Secondary Education

Colorado senator’s bill aims to get youth from foster care, into college, By Jenny Brundin, February 10, 2015, Colorado Public Radio: “State Sen. Linda Newell meets a lot of youth in foster care. One day one of them posted a message on her Facebook page. ‘And [it] said, you’ve got to take a look into this,’ recalls the Littleton Democrat.  ‘This’ refers to the dismal figures, confirmed by a University Northern Colorado study last fall, on the number of foster youth graduating from high school…”

State Minimum Wages

  • Iowa minimum wage trails neighbors, but hike unlikely, By Matthew Patane, January 11, 2015, Des Moines Register: “In South Dakota, a worker earning minimum wage gets paid $8.50 an hour — $1.25 an hour more than in Iowa. In Nebraska, the minimum wage is $8 an hour, and in Illinois, it’s $8.25 — both higher than Iowa’s $7.25 minimum. In fact, except for Wisconsin, Iowa is surrounded by states that offer a higher minimum wage. And the difference can be substantial — adding up to an additional $800 to $2,600 a year for full-time workers earning a higher minimum…”
  • Minnesota restaurant owners want break on tipped workers, By Patrick Condon, January 13, 2015, Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune: “Minnesota restaurateurs, sensing an opportunity with the new Republican House majority and fresh signs of sympathy from DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, plan to push for an exemption to last year’s minimum wage increase that would allow them to pay a lower base wage to tipped employees. ‘This last year has been a test for us,’ said Ed Fong, owner of David Fong’s, a Bloomington Chinese restaurant his parents opened in 1958. ‘With the minimum wage increase, and big increases in food costs — those are my two biggest costs, and I seem to have less and less control of those items.’ When the Legislature boosted the state minimum wage last year, a proposal to add the so-called ‘tipped employee tier’ nearly became part of the package. The idea had bipartisan support, but failed by one vote in the DFL-controlled House. Then Dayton, who strongly backed the minimum wage law, said shortly after signing it that he saw the logic behind an exemption for restaurants…”
  • Minimum wage increase in Colorado still leaves some workers short, By Greg Ruland, January 10, 2015, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: “The 23-cent increase in Colorado’s minimum wage provoked mixed reactions from local business owners and county officials, but did little to close the gap between full-time pay and the cost of living in Mesa County. The raise from $8 to $8.23 per hour — or for tipped employees, from $4.98 to $5.21 per hour — took effect Jan. 1. Spokesmen for two area restaurants employing minimum wage workers voiced different points of view about the increase…”

Minimum Wage – Colorado, Ohio

  • Minimum wage rising for Colorado workers starting Jan. 1, By Wayne Heilman, December 20, 2014, Colorado Springs Gazette: “Colorado’s minimum wage workers will get a 23-cent-an-hour raise starting Jan. 1, thanks to a state constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2006 that requires their pay to keep up with inflation. The minimum wage for workers who don’t receive tips increases to $8.23 an hour, while the minimum for servers and other workers who receive tips from customers rises to $5.21 an hour. The increases are the largest since a 28-cent-an-hour jump in 2012. For 2014, the amount went up 22 cents an hour…”
  • Minimum wage buying power in Ohio is shifting, By Jona Ison, December 21, 2014, Cincinnati Enquirer: “Ohio’s minimum wage is automatically adjusted each year by the rate of inflation, which is good for entry-level employees but might come at the expense of raises in the long term. Since 2006, the state’s minimum wage has been adjusted based on the consumer price index, which calculates the change of prices urban consumers pay for goods. The rate will be increasing from $7.95 to $8.10 on Jan. 1…”

Child Poverty

  • More than 1 in 4 school-aged children in Louisiana live in poverty, By Emily Lane, December 18, 2014, New Orleans Times-Picayune: “If a link exists between poverty and poor educational outcomes, Louisiana’s rate of school-aged children living below the poverty line may explain some of the state’s K-12 education struggles. Louisiana has the fourth highest rate of school-aged children living in poverty among the 50 United States and Washington, D.C., according to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Only Mississippi, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico, respectively, have higher rates of poverty among children ages 5-17…”
  • Census data: Across Colorado, child poverty rate slowly improving, By Nathaniel Minor, December 18, 2014, Colorado Public Radio: “The child poverty rates in counties across Colorado are slowly dropping after spiking during the Great Recession. New U.S. Census Bureau data released on Wednesday shows little movement from 2012 to 2013 in the child poverty rate for 44 of Colorado’s 64 counties. Only four counties saw increases of at least two percentage points: Alamosa, Dolores, Fremont and Hinsdale…”

Food Deserts – Denver, CO

Corner stores in NE Denver part of pilot program for food deserts, By Colleen O’Connor, October 14, 2014, Denver Post: “Hip-hop artist Kingpen Ken stops by the Gem Food Mart in his northeast Denver neighborhood on the way to the recording studio, and plunks down two bottles of water and an orange juice on the counter. ‘It’s just better to eat healthy things before you go to the studio,’ he said. ‘It’s better energy for the day. If you eat candy, it’s weird energy all day.’ This colorful corner store, painted orange and lime green, sits at the intersection of East 30th Avenue and Downing Street in the Whittier neighborhood, which is considered a food desert, far from a full-service grocer. It’s one of five corner stores in a pilot program called the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, started in August by the city and county of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health, and funded by a grant of more than $327,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation…”

Foster Youth and High School Graduation

Colorado foster care youth less likely to graduate than homeless kids, By Eric Gorski, September 14, 2014, Denver Post: “Each morning before school, Latisha Alvarado Barrington and her younger brother packed an extra set of clothes in their backpacks because they were unsure where they would sleep that night. Often, they would not want to go at all for fear of being taken again. Latisha guarded her identity as a foster child. She was fearful of the stigma as she bounced among a dozen placements, at times because her foster parents thought she was too much to handle. The despair of falling behind caused her to lay her head on the desk and think of school as pointless. Public officials and child advocates in Colorado have long known that students in foster care lag behind academically but have lacked the data to quantify it, a necessary step for finding solutions…”

Child Welfare System – Colorado

Colorado needs 574 more child-welfare caseworkers, study finds, By Christopher N. Osher, August 25, 2014, Denver Post: “Colorado’s child-protection system is overburdened and may need 574 more caseworkers — a 49 percent increase — to handle the work, according to a state study released Monday. The study also recommended the hiring of 122 new supervisors. In total, there are an estimated 1,800 county child-protection workers, supervisors and support staff in Colorado…”

Foster Children and Psychotropic Drug Prescriptions – Colorado

Colorado responds slowly to psychotropic drug use among foster kids, By Jennifer Brown and Christopher N. Osher, April 13, 2014, Denver Post: “Diego Conde was 12 when his mother died, devastated and bursting with rage at the rotten way life was treating him. The only living thing left that mattered to him was his tiny dog, Littlefoot. Then, three months later, Littlefoot died. Diego was sent to live with strangers — a string of foster families in Denver and Aurora. He got in fights at school, started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and exploded in anger at his teachers and temporary parents. At 13, he overdosed on borrowed prescriptions because he ‘couldn’t take it anymore.’ And so the state medicated him heavily, with twice-daily doses of potent mood-altering psychotropic drugs he says he did not want to take. Diego spent most of his teenage years numbed by a combination of Risperdal and Prozac to tame his rage and drown his grief. Now 18, he has aged out of the foster-care system and is speaking up for the thousands of foster children in Colorado who are medicated with psychotropics because of mental and behavioral problems…”

ACA and Medicaid Coverage

  • Progress, challenges as Medicaid rolls swell in state, By Lisa Stiffler, April 17, 2014, Seattle Times: “Washington state has blown past its targets for signing up new Medicaid participants under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The program’s ranks have grown roughly 25 percent in the past six months, helping fulfill one of the act’s key goals to provide health care to nearly all Americans. By the end of March, more than 285,000 adults who are newly eligible to participate in Medicaid had signed up for coverage. That’s twice the number officials had hoped to reach by then, and a target they hadn’t expected to hit for three more years. But with enrollment success comes the challenge of serving more people in a $10 billion program that’s already stretched thin in places…”
  • Health law push brings thousands into Colo. Medicaid who were already eligible, By Eric Whitney, April 16, 2014, Washington Post: “The big marketing push to get people enrolled in health coverage between October and March resulted in 3 million people signing up for Medicaid. Hundreds of thousands of those people were already eligible and could have signed up even before the Affordable Care Act made it much more generous. They came ‘out of the woodwork’ to get enrolled, analysts say, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and publicity around its new marketplaces. In Colorado, nearly 23,000 such people are now getting Medicaid. Their numbers grew Colorado’s Medicaid rolls by 3 percent over last year…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

  • Child poverty rate in Colorado rises above prerecession years, By Zahira Torres, March 24, 2014, Denver Post: “Despite an improving economy, more Colorado children were living in poverty in 2012 than at the trough of the economic downturn, according to an annual report that evaluates the well-being of children in the state. ‘We see many areas in Colorado that have not yet begun to feel the economic recovery and are still struggling with the lingering effects of the economic downturn,’ said Sarah Hughes, research director for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, a nonprofit organization that produces the annual Kids Count in Colorado report…”
  • Pueblo on low end in child wellness, By Loretta Sword, March 24, 2014, Pueblo Chieftain: “Statewide, children have made some gains in key areas — graduation rates are up and the teen pregnancy rate is down — but this year’s Kids Count in Colorado report also finds that more children are struggling in school, growing up in single-parent and homeless families, and have inadequate access to quality, affordable child care and nutritious foods. Colorado also has the fifth-highest rate of child fatalities related to abuse and neglect among all states, at 3.25 deaths per 100,000 children. The outlook on some fronts is worse in Pueblo County than the statewide rates, and fairly comparable in others…”

Minimum Wage Increases

  • Colorado minimum wage to jump to $8, By Pat Ferrier, December 18, 2013, The Coloradoan: “Colorado will increase its minimum wage by 22 cents on Jan. 1. The minimum wage for most workers will go to $8 an hour, while it will jump to $4.98 per hour for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers. The increase is expected to benefit about 104,000 low-wage workers in the state, but the impact on Fort Collins wages will likely be negligible…”
  • Ohio to hike minimum wage to $7.95/hr, December 18, 2013, Cincinnati Enquirer: “About 330,000 workers in Ohio will get a pay raise on Jan. 1, when the state’s minimum wage will increase by 10 cents to $7.95 an hour. The minimum wage for Ohio workers who receive tips also will increase, by 5 cents to $3.98 per hour. The pay hikes are the result of a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2006, which provides for annual rate adjustments to keep pace with the rising cost of living…”
  • Majority of Americans want minimum wage to be increased, poll finds, By Michael A. Fletcher and Peyton M. Craighill, December 17, 2013, Washington Post: “A large majority of Americans want Congress to substantially increase the minimum wage as part of an effort to reduce the nation’s expanding economic inequality, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. As a growing share of the country’s income flows to the very wealthiest, the poll found that 57 percent of Americans say lawmakers should pursue policies aimed at balancing an economic system they think is out of whack. Nearly two in three say federal policy is tilted toward helping the rich over Americans who are less well-off, according to the survey…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

Child poverty continues to grow, but Boulder County has sixth-lowest rate in Colorado, By Victoria A.F. Camron, October 10, 2013, Longmont Times-Call: “The number of Boulder County children living in poverty rose 19 percent from 2007 to 2011, even as the number of children living in the county fell 1 percent. Across Colorado, the number of children living in poverty rose 20 percent in that time, according to the Colorado Children’s Campaign…”

Kids Count Report – Colorado

Colorado’s child poverty rate almost doubles in 10 years, By Jordan Steffen, March 19, 2013, Denver Post: “Colorado has the second fastest growing rate of child poverty in the nation, according a Kids Count Colorado, an annual report from Colorado Children’s Campaign. The report, part of the Anne E. Casey Foundation’s national Kids County project, found that the rate of children living in poverty almost doubled between 2000 and 2011, to 18 percent from 10 percent, a trend experts say could get worse as the state slowly recovers from recent economic recessions. Only Nevada’s child-poverty rate increased more quickly…”

Child Welfare Reform – Colorado

Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper details $22.1 million in requests to improve child protection, By Christopher N. Osher and Jennifer Brown, February 27, 2013, Denver Post: “Colorado lacks sufficient data to know whether there are enough child protection workers in the state, and only three counties have invested in mobile technology that would make those workers more efficient, according to $22.1 million in budget requests from Gov. John Hickenlooper. The state also needs a child abuse hotline in part because confusion exists in rural areas over how to handle such calls after hours, the documents show. And Colorado has lacked uniform rules for screening reports of child abuse and neglect, officials acknowledge in the documents…”