Click the image at left as a link to the OpEds posted thus far.
Today, we invite you to read the perspective of Chaer Roberts, director of the Denver Women’s Commission.Most Coloradans would agree that anyone who works hard should be able to provide for his or her family’s basic needs: housing, food, heat, health care, etc. Most would also agree that children should not be unduly penalized for the circumstances of their parents.
Here in Colorado, 10.6 percent of people live in poverty — the federal government’s standard for being poor. As an example, the Federal Poverty Level for a family of three is $17,170/year. But 20.5 percent of households live below the Self-Sufficiency Standard, which varies by county, family size and age. The standard is the break-even point at which people can provide for their own basic needs without government or private help. It does not include debt repayment, savings, entertainment or eating out.
Colorado also had one of the nation’s biggest increases in childhood poverty – from 12 percent in 2001 to 15 percent in 2006. Families of young children are also vulnerable to the “cliff effect” — the abrupt loss of key work supports. As parents’ earnings surpass $8 per hour, they lose food stamps, energy assistance, child care and health care for their children, before the break-even point (often $16-$20/hour) at which they are earning enough to pay for everything themselves.
So what will the 2008 Colorado Legislature do to help struggling families? We will see. Likely legislation includes:
Chaer Robert has been Director of the Denver Women’s Commission since 1985. The Commission works for women through coalition building, legislative advocacy and public information.