Jan 27, 2023

Charles serves as CCLP's Income and Housing Policy Director using data and research to support our efforts to stand with diverse communities across Colorado in the fight against poverty. Staff page ›

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

SB23-007 Will Provide Much-Needed Resources to Colorado’s Adult Education Providers

by | Jan 27, 2023

Educational attainment is increasingly becoming a necessity for employment in a good, well-paying job here in Colorado. The Colorado Workforce Development Council’s Talent Pipeline Report for 2022 found that among Colorado’s top jobs that year,[i] 91.4% of tier 1 top jobs and 70.4% of tier 2 top jobs required a postsecondary degree.[ii] This means that, at a minimum, a large majority of those employed in a top job in Colorado in 2022 had completed their high school education in addition to some sort of degree or credential after high school. It also means that Colorado will need to train our workforce of the future to have the skills and credentials needed to fill our fastest growing, highest paying jobs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 7.6% of Coloradans ages 25 and older did not have a high school credential in 2021.[iii] Of these 300,000 or so individuals, 44.1% left school without completing 9th grade. The share of adults who have not received a high school credential varied across demographic groups and by county that year. For example, 23.6% of Hispanic or Latino/a adults in Colorado did not have a high school credential, compared to 3.1% of white Coloradans, the only racial or ethnic group in the state to have a high school credential non-attainment rate lower than that for the state as a whole.

Share of adults ages 25 and up without a high school credential, 2021

Source: 2021 1-Year American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

There are also noticeable geographic differences in the rate of Coloradans without a high school credential. In 2021, approximately 8.7% of adults ages 25 and up living in a rural county did not have a high school diploma, compared to 7.5% of this population living in an urban county.[iv] Nearly one in five Coloradans 25 years and older living in Morgan County lacked a high school credential that same year, the highest rate of any county in the state.

Without investments in adult education, workers will not have the opportunities they need to complete their high school education—a fundamental first step required for most credentials or postsecondary degrees available in the state. Compared to states of similar sizes and budgets in 2020, Colorado ranked above only Louisiana and Nevada in terms of percent of funding for federal adult education programs, all of which came from federal or local funding sources.[v] In addition, Oregon contributed over $36 million of state funds to its federal adult education programs in 2020—Colorado contributed zero state dollars that same year. Compared to K-12 education funding, where the state spends $9,500 per student,[vi] Colorado provides only $1,000 per student for adult education.[vii]

SB23-007 would take an important step in addressing disparities that exist in education funding in Colorado by allocating $2 million from the General Fund to the Adult Education Grant Program, administered by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). This grant program provides funding to adult education providers in Colorado to offer basic adult education in literacy, digital literacy, and numeracy that leads to a postsecondary credential, employment, or additional skills.

Importantly, the bill will allow community colleges, local district colleges, and area technical colleges to develop minimum graduation requirements and award high school diplomas, expanding the opportunities for adults who may be lacking a high school credential to attain one. It also adds digital literacy to the skills that adult education providers must offer, providing additional resources to the state’s wider digital equity efforts that will also play an important role in preparing Coloradans to be proficient in not only using technology and accessing the internet, but in having the skills and expertise necessary to be proficient and effective in digital environments.

The Colorado Center on Law and Policy supports SB23-007 and we hope to see this bill pass during this legislative session. Not only will it increase the relatively small amount of funding our state allocates to adult education, the bill’s provisions to expand the types of educational institutions that are able to grant a high school degree should provide greater access to adult education programs that result in a high school credential for those who currently lack this level of educational attainment in our state. As we continue our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fundamental that we ensure our state’s workforce has the skills, training, and education necessary to fill good, well-paying jobs. Adult education plays a critical role in preparing our workforce for the demands of the future, and it time for the amount of funding we provide to these programs to reflect this importance.

SB23-007 passed the Colorado legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s signature!

 

[i] Per the Talent Pipeline report, top jobs meet three criteria: projected to have more than 40 net annual openings, above 15 percent growth rate projected for the next ten years, and a good wage. Tier 1 top jobs meet the first two criteria and pay above $71,739.20 per year; tier 2 top jobs meet the first two criteria and pay between $39,852.80 and the annual wage for a tier 1 top job.

[ii] McKennie, Caitlin. 2022 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report. Colorado Workforce Development Council, State of Colorado (2022). Accessed from https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Eo2NU2URi351YCA9FXexEpK3AN7UnIkA/view on 19 January 2023.

[iii] Table S1501: Educational Attainment, 2021 1-Year American Community Survey (ACS). U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce. Accessed from https://data.census.gov/ on 19 January 2023.

[iv] Colorado Center on Law and Policy analysis of 2017-21 5-Year American Community Survey (ACS) data using 2020 U.S. Office of Management and Budget delineations of metropolitan statistical areas.

[v] U.S. Dept. of Education memo on estimated adult education state award amounts for FY20 (March 2020); supplemented by research through Spring Institute’s summer 2022 Urban Leaders Fellowship

[vi] Meltzer, Erica. “Fully fund K-12 schools? Colorado lawmakers say maybe next year.” Chalkbeat Colorado (2022). Accessed from https://co.chalkbeat.org/2022/5/3/23055738/colorado-school-funding-budget-inflation-property-tax-cap on 20 January 2023.

[vii] “Adult Education Program Fact Sheet – Colorado”. Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) (2020). Accessed from https://drive.google.com/file/d/18J7pYaOvTohn_Ji0Uj5Jl2ImdK8QzSKm/view on 20 January 2023.

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.

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.