Our View: Kudos to those who improve our youth | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: Kudos to those who improve our youth

Moffat County is not without challenges with regard to the health and success of its youth, but the 2015 Kids Count report presented Wednesday showed that area health and service organizations are charting success.

Childhood populations that struggle the most are those in poverty, those for which English is a second language, those in households with low educational attainment and those who experience significant traumatic events.

With a poverty rate of 16.4 percent amongst youth 18 and under, 10 percent of students who are English language learners and an 11.4 percent rate of abuse and neglect, Moffat County has a significant number of at-risk youth, which means significant challenges for those organizations that serve youth.

The efforts of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and others have reduced the occurrence of births to women smoking during pregnancy by nearly 6 percent over a 10-year period. Moffat County's rate is still more than 10 percent higher than the statewide average, and the VNA is working to close that gap even in the face of funding cuts for tobacco cessation programs, which organization officials say was a large factor in the decline.

Efforts by the Moffat County School District resulted in an 84.6 percent high school graduation rate, higher than the 77 percent state average. But even more important in the eyes of editorial board members is the fact that the number of Moffat County High School graduates entering remedial courses in college dropped 18 percent from 2010 to 2014. Considering the difficulties in serving a large at-risk student population, that is truly an accomplishment educators should be proud of.

That is not to say there isn't much work still to do. More than half of Moffat County students are still not proficient in reading, writing and math. And, while Moffat County ranks above the state in the number of mothers receiving prenatal care, our rate of teen pregnancy exceeds 35 percent, 12 points higher than the state. Additionally, 70 percent of Moffat County's children were either uninsured or were enrolled in state and federally subsidized health care programs in 2013-14.

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In a time when research backs the adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," federal and state dollars are still focused on intervention as opposed to prevention. Those whose business is serving children are at a disadvantage, but they are still making significant progress at reducing risk factors despite decreasing resources.

Our praise to those who are fighting a good fight on behalf of Moffat County's youth. A special thank you to Connections For Kids, the "It's About Kids" coordinator for Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, and the VNA for hosting the 2015 Kid's County report. The report is available under the Data and Research tap at http://www.coloradokids.com.

Editorial board:

Renee Campbell — newspaper representative

Noelle Leavitt Riley — newspaper representative (absent)

Sheli Steele — newspaper representative

Christina Oxley — community representative

Brenda Elsbree — community representative (absent)