Monday, March 26, 2018

KKCO News: "Kids Count in Colorado Report: Not great for Mesa, Montrose Counties"

By Megan McNeil
March 23, 2018

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- The Kids Count in Colorado report is out for 2018, and some of the numbers aren't looking too great for Mesa County. The report looks at all counties in Colorado and breaks down trends across the state.
In Mesa County, we didn't get the best report card.
"Mesa County is, unfortunately, lagging behind in a lot of the state-wide numbers that we see in areas that are really important to child well-being," said Sarah Hughes, vice president, research initiatives at Colorado Children’s Campaign.
Some of our not-so-hot numbers were in child neglect and abuse and teen suicide, but something else stands out.
"We also see a higher poverty rate in Mesa County than we see across the state, and I think a lot of the other indicators that lag behind can really be traced back to that higher poverty rate," said Hughes.
According to a new report, Mesa County had nearly double the amount of child abuse numbers than the state average.
"Poverty certainly impacts child abuse and neglect, as do many other factors such as increases in crime, domestic violence, substance abuse," said Kari Daggett, Dir. Child Welfare, Mesa County Human Services. 

Mesa County had 17 kids per 1,000 who were abused or neglected. The rest of the state averaged at about eight out of every 1,000.
"Experiencing poverty is extremely stressful for a family, and it makes it really hard on them to have the resources," said Hughes.
Mesa County also had higher rates of teen suicide than the rest of the state.
"We know that poverty absolutely has a big impact on folks mental health, so I think a lot of these issues are really interrelated,” said Hughes.
Teen suicide rates in Mesa County were 29 per 100,000. The state average was 18 teens per 100,000.
"I definitely think our economy plays a part in all those different factors," said Kati Garner, Coordinator of Mental Health and Crisis for District 51.
The district is working to find patterns and trends within their students, hoping to find a cause to all of these higher rates.
"The problem is we're not necessarily seeing a correlation between the three in District 51," said Garner. "Growing up in those environments a lot of times can affect the overall mental health of kids."
Montrose County got close to the same stats for the most part. Their child abuse percentages and poverty rates were both higher than the state average. There is some positive news though, Mesa County did have a much lower than average infant mortality rate.
For the full report follow the link next to this article.