KidsFlash: Sine Die! Strolling Thunder! And much more

Another great newsletter! The Colorado Children's Campaign provided a great summary of the 2018 Colorado legislative session, along with adorable photos from the first Strolling Thunder event in Colorado.

Capitol Update: Kids are big winners as the legislature wraps up the 2018 session

The Colorado General Assembly wrapped up its 120-day regular session this week with several big wins for kids passing in the final days. We’ll have a complete summary of wins for Colorado kids and families next week, but in the meantime, we have a few updates below on last-minute action on a few of the major bills benefiting kids. As always, you can search through all the legislation affecting kids and families that we tracked this session in the Capitol Updates section of our website.

Young children are big winners of the 2018 session
Legislators and advocates ensured our youngest Coloradans were a priority and we saw some of the most significant investments in policy action, and investments in the financing, of early childhood learning and development than we’ve seen in years. Every single win had bipartisan sponsorship. See the complete list, which includes many of our legislative priorities this session, in a KidsFlash post by Bill Jaeger, our Vice President of Early Childhood and Policy Initiatives.

SB18-013 (Fields & Gardner/Michaelson Jenet) Improving Access to Affordable School Lunch

This bill eliminates the reduced-price lunch copay and expands access to school lunches at no charge for students who would otherwise be eligible for reduced-price lunch, to include students in sixth through eighth grade. Colorado has already eliminated this copay for students in preschool through fifth grade. Read more about the bill, why the Children’s Campaign strongly supports it, and its final passage this week here.

HB18-1004 (Coleman & Wilson/Tate & Kefalas) Renewing the Child Care Contribution Credit

This bill would continue a credit that allows individuals and businesses to make contributions to promote child care in Colorado and claim a refundable credit for up to 50 percent of the contribution. Read more about the bill and its success in both chambers here.

HB18-1208 (Duran & Winter/Martinez Humenik) Expand Child Care Expenses Credit

This bill expands a credit available to families who pay child care expenses. Currently, Colorado offers a state tax credit for individuals making $60,000 per year or less equal to a percentage of the individual’s federal tax credit for child care expenses. The size of the credit is dependent on income level. This bill, as amended, would allow those currently eligible to claim a credit equal to 50 percent of the amount of the federal credit claimed by the individual. Read more about the bill’s success in both chambers here.

HB18-1309 (Coleman & Wilson/Hill) Programs Addressing Educator Shortages

This bill seeks to address teacher shortages in Colorado by requiring the Colorado Department of Higher Education to create a “grow your own educator” framework and award grants to up to teacher candidates in exchange for a commitment to teach for at least three years in districts experiencing teacher shortages. Read more about the bill and its success here.

Our signature KIDS COUNT-Down Calendar on a legislator’s desk on the last day of the session this week. AP photo/David Zalubowski

Read more Capitol Updates here

Advocates bring first Strolling Thunder event to Colorado

Advocates for pregnant women, babies and toddlers came to the State Capitol this week for Colorado’s first Strolling ThunderTM event. The rally, march and baby playdate were held simultaneously with the national event coordinated by ZERO TO THREE as part of the national Think Babiescampaign. The Children’s Campaign was proud to co-host the event with Clayton Early Learning and we’re grateful to all the parents, babies, partners, and organizations who came out to talk about issues that affect our littlest constituents. Special thanks to Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne for opening the rally, Meagan for sharing her story about Nurse-Family Partnership, and Crystal Munoz from Roots Family Center for sharing the importance of having a network of support for parents.

The event drew 20 play-date partners, including Junior League of Denver, Colorado Libraries, Colorado Children’s HospitalHappy Baby OrganicsRemembrance Yoga, Colorado Department of Public Health WIC programWeeCycle, and more. Performances from Seven Falls Indian Dancers, singer Rachel Taulbee, and Kalama Polynesian Dancers helped us open and close the day with grace and beauty.  

View photos of the event on our Facebook page, and stay tuned to KidsFlash for future Think Babies events.

State Board of Human Services Approves SNAP Expansion           

Last week, the Colorado State Board of Human Services approved several changes to Colorado’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) to make the program more efficient and effective. One of these changes was increasing the gross income eligibility threshold for food assistance from 130 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. This change will primarily benefit working families with high costs including housing and child care, and will help make those families eligible for food assistance. Several months of stakeholder outreach preceded the rule change.

Our Vice President of Health Initiatives, Erin Miller, testified in support of the rules noting that food insecurity is a pervasive problem in Colorado. Children are more likely to be impacted than other groups by food insecurity, and this change will help Colorado families overcome systemic barriers to opportunity to become more food—and financially— secure. Read More

Trump Administration Proposes $7 Billion Cut from CHIP
By Erin Miller

Earlier this week, President Trump proposed $15 billion in spending cuts, with roughly half of that coming from CHIP and another million coming from Affordable Care Act programs. If all of these spending cuts are approved by Congress, the cuts will still represent less than one percent of the $1.8 trillion deficit increase projected due to the 2017 Tax Act.

The proposed CHIP cuts include $2 billion from the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund, which helps buffer state budgets against higher-than expected enrollment, due for example, to a natural disaster or unexpected economic conditions that increase the number of moderate-income working families. An additional $5 billion will be cut from funds that are authorized for CHIP but not expected to be expended. Read More

Department of Education Approves Colorado’s ESSA State Plan

Just this week the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) approved Colorado’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan. Colorado was one of the first states in the nation to submit its state plan just over a year ago. However, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) received feedback from the USDOE in August and September of last year stating that there were several areas in the plan that required further clarification, including measures of student achievement, long term goals and interim targets.

The USDOE didn't approve of Colorado's original plan for handling opt-outs, in part because the state has been reluctant to penalize schools with low test-participation rates. The draft plan stated that, if schools’ participation rate dipped below 95 percent, it would count non-test takers as "not proficient" for federal accountability purposes. This led to the state developing two different accountability systems for purposes of reporting to the USDOE. Read More

Fast Fact
In 2016, more than 11,000 Colorado children between the ages of 0 and 17 were victims of child abuse or neglect, a rate of 8.4 victims out of every 1,000 children. The impacts of abuse and neglect during childhood can be lifelong; children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for teen pregnancy, becoming involved in criminal activity and abusing drugs. To find the rate of child abuse and neglect in your county, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

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Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.