We focus on securing access to food, health, housing and income to build a more equitable state.

Imagine if every Coloradan, no matter their gender, where they live, the color of their skin or the country of their heritage, were able to afford housing, food, clothing, health care and other essentials — all while building financial security for the future.

Imagine if quality, affordable health care were available throughout the state, so that all Coloradans could get the care they need without risking financial ruin.

Imagine if all Coloradans could get the education or skills training they needed to achieve economic security and live happy and productive lives.

A prosperous and inclusive economy is the vision of the future that guides Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Through research, education, advocacy and litigation, CCLP works with community members, policy‐makers and leaders in health care, employment and human services to forge pathways from poverty and remove barriers that prevent Coloradans from meeting their basic needs and being self‐sufficient.

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Food

Besides working with state legislators to transform legislation into law, we take our expertise to the administrative level of state government to propose policies that make it easier for Coloradans to obtain and use food assistance benefits. For example, we advise Colorado’s State Board of Human Services on rules that apply to programs like SNAP and WIC. We meet regularly with officials at the Colorado Department of Human Services on program issues. Our research team also reviews the effects of rules that govern Colorado’s food assistance programs on participant enrollment and retention.

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Health

Our work aims at ensuring that affordability coverage programs, including Medicaid, Child Health Plus (CHP+) and subsidized commercial plans, are comprehensive, efficient and effective so that Coloradans have access to preventive care and treatment that will enhance their lives in the short- and long-term. Our complex systems can be challenging, so we also provide Coloradans with more tools to advocate on their own behalf, and to get the care they and their families need.

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Housing

We support construction and preservation of more housing that Coloradans can afford. We promote manufactured housing as one solution. We provide tenants with more tools for securing stability in their housing, including workforce housing for entry-level professionals like teachers and police officers who otherwise might not be able to pay the rent in many parts of Colorado.

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Income

We advocate for policies that protect people’s access to basic needs when they can’t work. In partnership with our Skills2Compete Colorado Coalition, we also support efforts to get Coloradans back into the workforce and improve their skills to get better-paying jobs. Our policies help Coloradans working in low-wage jobs receive better wages, and support employment through child-care assistance and refundable tax credits.

Our Legislative Priorities

Last year, CCLP and its partners claimed a fair number of victories and started the dialogue on several policies that could make a difference for Coloradans living in or near poverty. This year we’re back at it with new bills, amendments, and opportunities to change lives across our state.

Additional resources

HEALTH:
HEALTH FIRST COLORADO (MEDICAID)

To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.

FOOD SECURITY:
SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP)

Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.

FOOD SECURITY:
SPECIAL SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION PROGRAM FOR WOMEN, INFANTS AND CHILDREN (WIC)

Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.

EARLY LEARNING:
COLORADO CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (CCCAP)

Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.