For child advocates, childhood care, health and education are top priorities during the 2016 legislative session. The Colorado General Assembly convened last week.
During the 120-day session, which started on Jan. 13, officials with the Colorado Children’s Campaign hope to steer policymakers on a number of issues.
“One of the most important ways the Children’s Campaign serves as a voice for kids is by advocating on their behalf at the Colorado State Capitol,” campaign spokesperson Tara Manthey said in a recent statement.
Lawmakers will be pushed, for example, to provide quality, affordable childcare for teen parents and domestic violence survivors as well as expand access to mental and behavioral health services for young children.
The latter, in regard to expulsion and suspension of children in preschool and early elementary grades, was a common concern voiced at a recent Montelores Early Childhood Council luncheon. The local organization works to improve the quality of services for young children and their families in Montezuma and Dolores counties.
“We need added early childhood mental health services in the local schools,” said MECC director Vangi McCoy, adding that funding resources limited those capabilities.
The Children’s Campaign aims to ensure that current health insurance coverage options are maintained, all women have access to reliable birth control, and every child is able to obtain affordable and accessible immunizations, nutritious foods and safe places to live, learn and play.
The Children’s Campaign also has vowed to advocate for fair and sufficient financing to meet the needs of students living in poverty, learning English or struggling to read and accountability systems that give parents and educators information they need to improve schools.
In Montezuma County, nearly 1,800 kids lived below the poverty line in 2013, the most recent available data. It remains nearly double that of the state’s child poverty rate of 17 percent.
To learn more, visit www.coloradokids.org.