From 2010 to 2017, the child population in Gunnison County grew at a faster rate than any other county in Colorado. That’s according to the annual Kids Count Colorado survey which came out in August.
“Kids Count is a report that we put out every single year and it has a ton of data on how kids are doing across a lot of different areas,” says Sarah Hughes with the Colorado Children’s Campaign. “We look at family economic security. We look at child health. We look at early childhood and K-12 education.”
She says the biggest implication from such a dramatic increase in the population of children is that childcare can become more difficult to find.
“We have a big shortage right now in the childcare workforce, so it’s really difficult for families to find childcare and a lot of communities, especially ones like Gunnison County where the population continues to grow,” said Hughes.
According to data collected by the state, licensed childcare facilities in Gunnison County have a total capacity for 431 children under the age of six. The Kids Count Colorado survey found nearly 800 kids in Gunnison County under the age of five. That’s more than twice the number of available childcare slots, and it’s not even accounting for all the six-year-olds living in Gunnison County.
There was some good news coming out the report though. Researchers found a dramatic decrease in the number of uninsured children living in Gunnison County.
“Just over the course of a few years between 2013 and 2017, we saw the uninsured rate for kids in Gunnison County fall by more than half,” she told KBUT. “This is a really huge victory for kids in Colorado. We know that without health insurance coverage, it’s really hard for kids to get preventive care. It’s really hard for their families to be able to take them to the doctor when they’re sick or when they’re injured.”