Bennet: We Must Do More to Help Kids, Keep Children Out of Poverty

New Report Finds 50 Percent Increase in Child Poverty in Colorado

Washington, DC – Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, released the following statement on a report that the percentage of children living in poverty in Colorado has increased by 50 percent from 2000 to 2008, compared to a 6 percent increase nationwide. 

“Colorado’s working families have been hit hard by a decade of declining wages and rising costs that have had real consequences for our kids,” said Bennet.  “No child should ever have to worry about where their next meal will come from, which is why we need to make sure our kids have access to nutritious, healthy food at school.  But we also need to fix the systemic problems that keep children and families in poverty.  A centerpiece of that must be ensuring our public schools serve as a vehicle to bring kids out of poverty, not a trap to perpetuate it. We also have to support growth for our private sector which will create the jobs and opportunities that can help pull families out of poverty.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual report that tracks the well-being of children state-by-state, found that the child poverty rate in Colorado increased from 10 percent in 2000 to 15 percent in 2008, which ranks 18th among all states.  The national average poverty rate increased to 18 percent.

Bennet has repeatedly called for a fundamental change to our public education system that gives every kid the opportunity to reach their full potential and succeed.  He is working on education reforms to help close the achievement gap, ensure all kids have the opportunity to go to college and prepare our students for jobs in the 21st century economy.

During his time in the Senate, Bennet has worked to help families and small businesses struggling in this tough economy.  He has worked on efforts to create jobs for Coloradans and boost local economies to help families recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In May, Bennet joined a bipartisan group of 53 Senators who wrote a letter to Senate leadership urging that the Senate take up and pass landmark child nutrition legislation, which has a special emphasis on providing healthy meals to children living in poverty.  Bennet has also worked to strengthen the bill by introducing an amendment that would authorize the USDA to create "State Childhood Hunger Challenge Grants" that would provide states opportunities to reduce hunger by targeting communities with higher prevalence of child hunger and collaborating with a wide range of partners.

For more information on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, please click here.  For more information on Bennet’s efforts to improve education for children in poverty, please click here.