Routt County officials: Report on child well-being hard to put into local context

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At a glance

Routt County:

Population

2011 child population (younger than 18): 4,772

2011 child population as a percentage of total population (younger than 18): 20.6 percent

Vulnerable families

2011 teen births (rate per 1,000 female teens ages 15 to 19): 15.4

2011 out-of-home placements (rate per 1,000): 2.1

Family economics and supports

2012 children qualifying for free or reduced price lunch: 22.6 percent

2011 median household income: $64,998

2011 children (younger than 18) in poverty: 11.9 percent

Child and maternal health

2011 child abuse and neglect (rate per 1,000): 10.2

2011 uninsured children (ages 0 to 18): 19.1 percent

2011 eligible for Medicaid or CHP+ but not enrolled: 36.1 percent

Moffat County:

Population

2011 child population (younger than 18): 3,609

2011 child population as a percentage of total population: 26.9 percent

Vulnerable families

2011 teen births (rate per 1,000 female teens ages 15 to 19): 55.8

2011 out-of-home placements (rate per 1,000): 8

Family economics and supports

2012 children qualifying for free or reduced price lunch: 42.9 percent

2011 median household income: $52,257

2011 children (younger than 18) in poverty: 17.5 percent

Child and maternal health

2011 child abuse and neglect (rate per 1,000): 14.2

2011 uninsured children (ages 0 to 18): 19.1 percent

2011 eligible for Medicaid or CHP+ but not enrolled: 25.5 percent

A recently released report that provides insight into the well-being of Routt County children should be taken in context with the realities of life in Steamboat Springs and surrounding areas, local officials said.

The 2013 Kids Count report released by the Colorado Children’s Campaign suggests a troublingly high percentage of Routt County children who are eligible but not enrolled in Medicaid or CHP+. And while the report also points to a child poverty rate in Routt County that is far below the state average, officials said poverty here must be considered relative to the self-sufficiency standard.

According to the Kids Count report, 36.1 percent of Routt County children eligible to receive Medicaid or CHP+ were not enrolled in either program. That’s the second-highest percentage in the state behind only Garfield County.

Stephanie Martin, director of First Impressions of Routt County, warned against reading too much into the figure.

“When the Kids Count data comes out, it’s 2 years old, so we feel like it’s not really giving the most accurate picture, so it can be really frustrating,” Martin said.

The county also has taken steps to make sure more families are aware of the coverage options that might be available to them.

Vickie Clark, director of Routt County’s Department of Human Services, has partnered with the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association to create a presumptive eligibility site that allows children and pregnant women to get access to Medicaid coverage quickly.

“We presumptively make them eligible,” Clark said. “They can get medical care right there on the spot, then pass the application on to Human Services for long-term eligibility.”

Clark said local enrollment in Medicaid has increased since the 2011 figure came out.

Meanwhile, the Kids Count report indicated a child poverty rate in Routt County of 11.9 percent, well below the state average of 18 percent.

However, poverty should be defined differently in Routt County, officials said. Although the county’s median household income is $64,998 — compared to the state average of $55,530 — Martin said the self-sufficiency standard for living in Steamboat Springs in 2011 was $78,818. The Colorado Center on Law and Policy puts out the Colorado self-sufficiency report every four or five years. The self-sufficiency standard is for a family of four including two adults, an infant and a preschooler.

“Even though we see the average median household income higher than the state’s, we still see a lot of families struggling to have their children enrolled in preschool,” Martin said.

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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