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Date added

August 1, 2013

Filed under

Annual Report 2012

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CCLP: Colorado’s Powerhouse for the Poor

For fifteen years, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy has worked hard, with notable success, to enhance justice and economic security for low-income Coloradans. CCLP has been the premier organization conducting research, advocating, educating and, if required, litigating on behalf of low-income Coloradans.
Since it began, CCLP has excelled in legislative advocacy. CCLP has been instrumental in the passage of much legislation enhancing economic security, from raising basic cash assistance grants for Colorado Works recipients by 20 percent after two decades with no increase to protecting and expanding Medicaid services and eligibility for vulnerable Coloradans. CCLP also led the advocates’ charge for the elimination of special tax credits and exemptions to help raise revenues during the heart of the great recession, thereby protecting K-12 and other important funding from more extreme cuts. CCLP was a major force in the establishment of the Colorado Health Benefit Exchange (now called Connect for Health Colorado) and has been the lead stakeholder advocating evidence-based policy before the legislature’s Economic Opportunity and Poverty Reduction Task Force.
CCLP’s research and publications have been invaluable resources to opinion leaders and decision-makers. Among many other things, CCLP publishes two powerful data-driven reports: The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado and State of Working Colorado. Over a decade and a half, CCLP has also secured major legal victories, from establishing a constitutional right to notice for welfare recipients facing loss of benefits to challenging the failed implementation of the Colorado Benefits Management System.
Highlights of CCLP’s work in 2012 include close engagement with the Colorado health benefits exchange. CCLP served as a powerful consumer advocate in the development of the Connect for Health Colorado insurance marketplace. CCLP also originated and led the coalition that supported passage of the bill establishing the Hospital Payment Assistance Program. That program requires hospitals to distribute information about their charity care policies and offer discount programs to any uninsured Coloradans under 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
CCLP also focused on coalition building in order to more effectively advance our family economic security agenda. For example, CCLP convenes Skills2Compete Colorado, a coalition of unusual suspects that advocates for policies promoting middle-skill jobs. The Skills2Compete coalition was instrumental in the 2012 passage of the Skills for Jobs Act, an innovative bill designed to align Colorado’s education and training opportunities with well-paying jobs in demand and reduce the state’s skills gap.
CCLP has cemented its place, and looks forward to its future, as a powerhouse for the poor.


Date added

August 1, 2013

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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.


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.


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.


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.