Here's Another Reason Why Our KidSight Colorado Program Is Needed

The fact that children are covered by insurance is not enough to make sure kids get eye exams.  A new study published last August by the University of Michigan indicates that children from less affluent homes, even when they are covered by health insurance, still are not as likely as other children to get vision screenings to identify conditions like lazy eye.

The researchers tracked health insurance claims for almost 900,000 children from birth through age 14.  They were looking for how often kids at different income levels visited eye doctors and the diagnosis rates for stabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia  (lazy eye).

The lower the income level the fewer eye care visits they found for those children in the study.  Lower income children were also less likely to be diagnosed with strabismus or amblyopia than children from higher-income families.  By age 10 3.6 percent of low income children were diagnosed with strabismus and and 2 percent with amblyopia.  Diagnoses of these problems for kids in the highest income bracket were 50 to 100 percent greater.

The study estimates that the lack of eye care visits in lower income children resulted in 12,800 missed cases of strabismus and 5,400 missed cases of amblyopia.

The study’s lead author Dr. Joshua D. Stein concluded that less affluent parents may have more difficulty taking time off from work or face transportation challenges getting a child to an eye care provider.  He also said that there may be fewer eye care providers available in less affluent areas.

The KidSight Colorado program offers the opportunity for a vision screening for all children in Colorado from six months through six years of age.  Our program works in many underserved communities to make sure children receive an accurate instrument based vision screening.  We also have a follow-up program to make sure that children receive the care that they need.  Our statistics validate the results of the study - there are many more barriers to getting care for low income families and it is difficult for us to ensure appropriate care is received.  

At KidSight Colorado we will continue to seek additional resoources and follow-up to make sure every child gets needed care.  We especially want to thank our major partner the Lions Clubs of Colorado who play a major role in helping our program succeed. 

A Letter to the 115th Congress

Dear Members of the 115th United States Congress:

Your work in this new session of Congress is well underway.  Already this session you are discussing the repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  I ask you to think about America’s children as you discuss repealing or making changes to this important legislation. The repeal of this legislation without a viable alternative for this coverage would affect the health of millions of children.  

The ACA currently provides comprehensive coverage for children for eye exams and glasses, an important preventative care measure for children, as one of ten essential health benefits in the ACA’s individual and small group federal exchange.  This coverage has made a huge difference in the lives of many children allowing them to receive needed eye care and improve their readiness for performance in school.  Prior to the implementation of the ACA many parents were unaware that their child had a vision problem and many struggled to pay for previously uncovered services on their own such as an eye exam and glasses.

Eighty percent of learning is visual and currently typical vision screenings conducted as a part of state mandates for school health screenings miss 1 out of 3 children with significant vision and eye health problems. Instrument based vision screening programs such as the Colorado Lions KidSight Program and other similar efforts across the country provide more effective vision screening than standard school testing.  Instrument based screening in combination with the covered vision services under the ACA are helping many children by identifying and correcting vision problems before they affect academic performance.

Since we have been conducting instrument based screening in Colorado and with the implementation of the ACA our program has noticed important cost savings for insurers as well as schools and parents.  Students are being identified with correctable vision problems before they develop into bigger vision issues such as amblyopia (lazy eye) or other health related problems which are more serious and more expensive to treat.  Schools are able to identify and notify parents of vision issues more quickly before learning is affected.  In a number of cases children being evaluated for special education services have simply had a correctable vision problem rather than requiring  special education special services that are expensive for schools to provide. Changes in behavior, self esteem and coordination also result from something as simple as correction of a vision problem.

Our collaborative effort in Colorado works to identify children like Abigail who was recently screened by our program.  A vision problem was detected and her parents took her in for an eye exam.  Not only did they detect a problem requiring glasses but they also detected a spot on her eye which puts Abigail at risk for melanoma (cancer).  She now will be monitored every six months to make sure her eye remains healthy.

Despite the implementation of the ACA nationwide in Colorado we have more work to do to make sure our children receive the same benefits as those provided to children covered under the federal ACA exchange.  Our current state health exchange as approved by the Colorado Legislature only provides coverage for the eye exam for children and does not cover glasses for a vision problem.  It seems that we may not all be created equal under our laws depending upon the state where we live.

Millions of Americans have been able to obtain health insurance, many for the first time, due to the Affordable Care Act.  In Colorado alone more than 419,000 people have gained health insurance through our state exchange program.  A repeal of the ACA means that those who are currently covered under the exchange will no longer have the preventative and primary care services they need which often detect problems early before they become more serious and expensive to treat.

Given the importance of good vision for our nation’s children we urge the Senate and the House of Representative to work together to ensure that our children can continue to have a bright and healthy future and they are counting on you to do so.

Sincerely,

Jeanne Barrett, Chair

Holly Rutherford-Allen, Executive Director

Colorado Lions KidSight Program

Childhood Diabetes and Vision

November is Diabetes Awareness month.  For those who are unfamiliar with this disorder, diabetes is a decreased production of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin.  Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is necessary for the control of blood sugar.  Fluctuations in blood sugar can be harmful to the body and can sometimes result in vision problems.

The most common type of diabetes in young children is type 1 diabetes (sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes).  In this type of diabetes the pancreas produces little or no insulin.  The insulin must be replaced with shots or an insulin pump.  According to recent research the incidence of type 1 diabetes is now twice as high among children as it was in the 1980’s.

How would I know if my child has diabetes?

Parents can look for the following signs and symptoms of the disease:

Blurred vision

Extreme hunger accompanied by weight loss

Excessive thirst

Frequent urination

Fatigue

Loss of feeling or tingles in the hands and feet

If you suspect your child has diabetes, please contact your family doctor as soon as possible.

How is diabetes related to my child’s sight?

Diabetes can be harmful to the eyes and can cause permanent damage if the disease is not managed and controlled.  If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, schedule a complete eye exam with an eye doctor as soon a possible and at least once a year thereafter.  Your doctor may recommend more frequent eye exams if indicated by the presence of abnormalities.

 

There is no cure for diabetes, however with education and good management of the disease your child can lead a healthy and happy life.

Safety Tips for Halloween

Children love Halloween!  However, please remember that safety is important for your little ghosts and goblins.  Here are some tips that will ensure that your children are able to fully enjoy the spooky festivities.  Happy Halloween!

  1. Avoid costumes that block vision such as some masks, wigs, hats and eye patches.

  2. If your child’s costume includes face paint or makeup always use a hypoallergenic brand.  Pay close attention to the paint label and make sure that paint additives are FDA approved.  Be careful when applying paint or makeup around the eye.  Do not use blush or lip-liner to create a “red” effect, as some of these makeups are not approved for use around the eyes.

  3. Only adults should apply makeup to children.  Remove makeup with cold cream or eye makeup remover instead of soap and water.  If makeup gets into the eye rinse it with cold water.  If redness or irritation continues, see an eye care professional as soon as possible.

  4. Sharp objects such as swords or wands can endanger your child’s eyes as well as the eyes of other children.

  5. Always accompany children while trick-or-treating.  Only go to houses you are familiar with, and only visit homes that have the porch light on.

  6. Give your child a small flashlight.  If it is a dark night your child will be more able to see dark paths and steps and avoid holes in yards.  They will also be more visible to drivers.

  7. Make sure costumes are reflective and made of flame retardant material.  You can add reflective tape to any costume for better visibility.

Insurance Coverage Alone Doesn't Ensure Children Receive Eye Exams

A new study published in August by the University of Michigan indicates that children from less affluent homes, even when they are covered by health insurance, still are not as likely as more affluent children to get vision screenings to identify conditions like lazy eye which can cause irreversible damage to vision if not treated.

The researchers tracked health insurance claims for almost 900,000 children from birth through age 14.  They were looking for how often kids at different income levels visited eye doctors and the diagnosis rates for stabismus (crossed eyes) and amblyopia (lazy eye).

The lower the income level the fewer eye care visits they found for those children in the study.  Lower income children were also less likely to be diagnosed with strabismus or amblyopia than children from higher-income families.  By age 10, 3.6 percent of low-income children were diagnosed with strabismus and and 2 percent with amblyopia. Incidences of diagnosis of these problems for kids in the highest income bracket were 50 to 100 percent greater.

The study estimates that this lack of eye care visits in lower-income children resulted in 12,800 missed cases of strabismus and 5,400 missed cases of amblyopia.

The study’s lead author Dr. Joshua D. Stein concluded that less affluent parents may have more difficulty taking time off from work or face transportation challenges getting a child to an eye care provider.  He also said that there may be fewer eye care providers available in less affluent areas.

Based on an analysis of our data from KidSight Colorado this is also true in Colorado.  The study reinforces the critical need for follow-up after a child is identified with a problem after our vision screening.  We are working to ensure that every child identified with a problem visits an eye doctor for a complete eye exam.  Our program has available resources to help families who cannot afford the cost of an eye exam and glasses for their child.  Please contact Holly Rutherford-Allen at 720-325-7078 for more information.

 

Are Your Children Ready to Go Back to School?

Prevent Blindness America has declared this month Children’s Eye Health and Safety month to inspire parents to make their child’s vision a priority.  Healthy eyesight can help improve a child’s chance at success in the classroom.

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for children.  It is also a time when KidSight Colorado and parents can work together to give Colorado kids a healthy start.  Our program is gearing up for the start of the new school year and will be conducting screenings and providing educational information on the importance of good vision in children to parents and the community beginning this month.

According to the recent Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States study from Prevent Blindness America, vision disorders in children ages 0-17 cost Americans more than $5.7 billion in direct and indirect costs. In Colorado those costs were $84 million. Vision loss and blindness come at a tremendous cost.

That is why it is important for us to increase our screening efforts for children 6 months through 6 years of age.  We can help prevent some of these problems and their associated costs by early screening for conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, anisometropia (unequal refractive power), strabismus (misaligned eyes) and anisocoria (unequal pupil size). These conditions are often indicators of amblyopia (lazy eye) which can cause permanently poor vision or even blindness in children if not detected early.  

If you know of a school or organization in Colorado that could benefit from a Colorado Lions KidSight Program (KidSight Colorado) vision screening please let me know and I am happy to make the arrangements.  Let’s make sure all of Colorado’s kids have great vision as we begin the 2016-17 school year.

 

Please check out our website for additional resources about children’s eye health and safety or call us at 720-325-7078.

Holly Rutherford-Allen, Executive Director

 

Summer Eyecare for Children

It’s summer and the season to spend lots of time out of doors in the sun.  Increased outdoor activity and exposure to ultraviolet rays also means your child’s eyes are at increased risk.

New research shows that children’s eyes can be damaged from sun exposure, just like their skin.  This damage can increase the risk of developing diseases such as cataracts or macular generation when they become adults.

A child’s lens allows 70% more ultraviolet rays to reach the retina than in an adult according to pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Borchert.  Most parents protect their children’s skin from UV exposure but few know that their child should be wearing sunglasses as well.

Here are some great tips for enjoying your time in the sun this summer:

1.  Kids should wear sunglasses – especially if they are younger.  You can purchase inexpensive sunglasses many places but make sure the glasses are rated to block both UVA and UVB radiation.  It is best to purchase glasses with a polycarbonate lenses.  Children under six may need a strap to keep the glasses in place.

2.  Wear protective eye gear for ball sports.  Each year more than 18,000 sports related eye injuries are seen in US hospitals.  While many children are required to wear helmets while playing ball (baseball, softball, basketball, racket sports including tennis) there is usually no requirement for protective goggles or eyewear.  Regular eyewear is not recommended as it is not usually secured to the head.

3.  Use a non-irritating sunscreen.  Adult sunscreen will generally work for your entire family.  However, if your child develops a rash try another brand.  Suncreens that are PABA free or that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide also tend to be less irritating.

4.  Check the chlorine level in the pool.  Too little chlorine in a pool can cause algae and bacteria to grow which can lead to eye infections.  Also check the levels of chloramines and the pH of the pool to avoid stinging and redness of the eyes.  Goggles are a good way to avoid any eye irritation in the pool.  Persistent irritation of the eyes and redness, especially after showering could be an indication of an infection and a visit to a physician may be necessary.

 

May is Healthy Vision Month

During Healthy Vision Month, held each May, the National Eye Institute empowers Americans to make their eye health a priority and educates them about steps they can take to protect their vision.

 

Healthy Vision Month 2016

When it comes to our health, we often visit our doctor or nurse regularly to make sure our bodies are healthy. But what about our eyes? They’re not always top of mind, but they’re just as important. During Healthy Vision Month, held each May, KidSight Colorado and the National Eye Institute empower Americans to make their eye health a priority and educates them about steps they can take to protect their vision.

Get a dilated eye exam. Getting a dilated eye exam is the only way to catch eye diseases early, because with many, there are no warning signs. Talk to your eye care professional about how often you and your children should have one.

Live a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight, managing chronic conditions, and not smoking can lower your risk of eye disease.

Know your family history. Talk to your family members about their eye health history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease, since many are hereditary. This will help to determine if you are at higher risk for developing an eye disease yourself.

Use protective eyewear. Protect your eyes when doing chores around the house and yard, playing sports, or on the job to prevent eye injuries from happening. This includes wearing safety glasses, goggles, safety shields, and eye guards that are made of polycarbonate.

Wear sunglasses. When purchasing sunglasses, look for ones that block out 99 to 100% of both UVA and UVB radiation, so you can keep your vision sharp and eyes healthy. A hat offers great protection, too!

Taking these steps can help prevent vision loss, blindness, and many eye diseases and conditions from occurring.

For more information about keeping eyes healthy visit the Healthy Vision Month Website at:

https://nei.nih.gov/news/briefs/HVM_2016

Let’s celebrate Healthy Vision Month together! No effort is too small when encouraging people to make their vision last a lifetime.

 

 

National Center for Children's Vision and Eye Health Report Highlights

Today the National Center for Children's Vision and Eye Health released a new report titled "Children's Vision and Eye Health: A Snapshot of Current National Issues."  The report was issued to help address the need for effective programs and strategies for children's vision.

The report includes the following information:

1.  The cost of children's vision disorders are significant, $10 billion annually in the United States.

2.  More than twenty percent of preschoolers in the Head Start program have a vision problem.

3.  Good vision is a strong predictor of academic performance for children.

4.  Amblyopia (lazy eye) is the most common cause of vision loss in children.

5.  Uncorrected refractive errors in infants and preschoolers are associated with developmental delay as well as deficits in cognitive and visual-motor function, which can have an impact on school readiness.

The report also includes information of a summary of school vision screening rates and requirements by state, several effective examples of effective state programs, and a report on the impact of access to care issues.  Contact Holly Rutherford-Allen at holly@kidsightcolorado.org for a complete copy of the report.

Over the next few weeks I will focus on several issues of importance in the report.  New blog posts will be announced on Facebook.  "Like" our KidSight Colorado page to get info on new blog posts about this report.

 

 

Will Your Child Need Glasses?

                                            A New Formula Predicts Nearsightedness

A new study indicates that a simple formula may predict which children will need glasses as they hit middle school. They measure how farsighted they are in first grade.

A study of more than 4,500 children indicates that measuring a child’s vision at around age 6 can predict which children become nearsighted by the age of 13. These findings were published in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Ophthalmology.

The study also casts doubt on the widely held belief that reading in poor light or “near work” sometimes causes nearsightedness. This theory has been widely held for more than 100 years and the study found no association.

The children in this study have been taking part since 1989 and the children live in five different cities in the United States. The children received annual eye exams from age six to age thirteen. The study concluded that the children who were less farsighted – the cutoff was +0.75 diopters – were more likely to become more nearsighted when they were older.

Children seldom receive a comprehensive eye screening annually when they are so young. However, the study indicates it may be worth doing so ophthalmologists can work to see if there is a way to prevent eyesight from worsening.

The researchers indicated this is an important issue because one in three people in the United States aged 12 to 54 years is nearsighted. In addition the prevalence of nearsightedness appears to be on the rise.

The cost to the U.S. health care system is almost $4 billion annually.

 

 

 

New Childhood Vision Research

Two studies regarding childhood vision have been published recently and provide new insights on myopia and hyperopia (nearsightedness and farsightedness).

Myopia (nearsightedness) is on the increase in children.  There is a genetic component to myopia and it can run in families.  The Northern Ireland Childhood Errors of Refraction study found that children with one parent who has myopia is at least three times more likely to be myopic than those without and if both parents are nearsighted the risk is more than seven times greater.   Myopia is most likely to develop between the ages of six and thirteen.  The research found that children who get more physical exercise have lower rates of myopia than children who stay indoors.  Researchers say that just an hour extra outdoors can protect children from developing myopia.  They believe it is the effect of the outdoor light on the eye and being outside changes these levels in the body.  So tell you kids to play outside for at least an hour a day.  They will thank you (for a lot of reasons!).

A second study funded by the National Institute of Health and published in the journal Ophthalmology this month identified a link between readiness skills and uncorrected hyperopia (farsightedness) in children ages 4 and 5.  The study revealed significantly worse performance by children with uncorrected hyperopia on the Test of Preschool Early Literacy.  Performance was most affected in the print knowledge part of the test which assesses the ability to identify letters and written words.  The study concluded that these differences are meaningful because formal learning for many children begins in the preschool years.or many children begins in the preschool years.

Childhood Diabetes and Vision

 

November is Diabetes Awareness month. For those who are unfamiliar with this disorder, diabetes is a decreased production of insulin or the body’s inability to use insulin. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is necessary for the control of blood sugar. Fluctuations in blood sugar can be harmful to the body and can sometimes result in vision problems.

The most common type of diabetes in young children is type 1 diabetes (sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes). In this type of diabetes the pancreas produces little or no insulin. The insulin must be replaced with shots or an insulin pump. According to recent research the incidence of type 1 diabetes is now twice as high among children as it was in the 1980’s.

How would I know if my child has diabetes?

Parents can look for the following signs and symptoms of the disease:

Blurred vision

Extreme hunger accompanied by weight loss

Excessive thirst

Frequent urination

Fatigue

Loss of feeling or tingles in the hands and feet

If you suspect your child might have diabetes, please contact your family doctor as soon as possible.

How is diabetes related to my child’s sight?

Diabetes can be harmful to the eyes and can cause permanent damage if the disease is not managed and controlled. If your child is diagnosed with diabetes, schedule a complete eye exam with an eye doctor as soon a possible and at least once a year thereafter. Your doctor may recommend more frequent eye exams if indicated by the presence of abnormalities.

There is no cure for diabetes, however with education and good management of the disease your child can lead a healthy and happy life.

 

Think Safety First for a Hauntingly Happy Halloween

Children love Halloween! However, please remember that safety is important for your little ghosts and goblins. Here are some tips that will ensure that your children are able to fully enjoy the spooky festivities.

Avoid costumes that block vision such as some masks, wigs, hats and eye patches. If your child’s costume includes face paint or makeup always use a hypoallergenic brand. Pay close attention to the paint label and make sure that paint additives are FDA approved. Be careful when applying paint or makeup around the eye. Do not use blush or lip-liner to create a “red” effect, as some of these makeups are not approved for use around the eyes.

Only adults should apply makeup to children. Remove makeup with cold cream or eye makeup remover instead of soap and water. If makeup gets into the eye rinse it with cold water. If redness or irritation continues, see an eye care professional as soon as possible.

Sharp objects such as swords or wands can endanger your child’s eyes as well as the eyes of other children.

Always accompany children while trick-or-treating. Only go to houses you are familiar with, and only visit homes that have the porch light on.

Give your child a small flashlight. If it is a dark night your child will be more able to see dark paths and steps and avoid holes in yards. They will also be more visible to drivers.

Make sure costumes are reflective and made of flame retardant material. You can add reflective tape to any costume for better visibility.  HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Six Tips for Healthy Eyes

School is in full swing and we want to make sure Colorado's children have healthy eyes because 80 percent of learning is visual.  Use these tips to make sure your child's eyes are healthy so s/he can be academically successful.  These great tips also work for adults too!

The 20/20/20 Rule.  You and your children should follow the 20/20/20 rule when using computers.  Every 20 minutes look at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.  Place the computer screen so it is about 25 inches away and slightly below eye level.

Wear sunglasses.  Wearing sunglasses whenever you are outside blocks 99 to 100% of UV-A and UV-B rays.  This is especially important since we live at high altitude.  Because of our altitude wear them all year long, not just in the summer.

Eat for your Heart and Eyes.  Foods that help circulation are good for your heart, eyes and vision.  Choose foods like citrus fruits, dark, leafy greens and whole grains.  Foods rich in zinc such as beans, peas, peanuts, lean red meat and poultry can help eyes resist light damage.  Carrots contain vitamin A which helps with good vision.  Beta-carotene found in many yellow and orange fruits and vegetables also is good for your vision.

Many types of drugs – or combinations of drugs can affect vision.  Ask your child’s doctor about possible side effects and look for issues like dry or watery eyes, light sensitivity and puffy or droopy eyelids.

Don’t ignore Eye Problems.  If problems like itchy or red eyes persist, see a doctor.  Other symptoms of eye problems in children may include recurring sties in the eyes, sensitivity to light, squinting when focusing on distant objects, blinking more than usual and rubbing eyes frequently.

Know your family health history.  Vision problems can run in families so tell your doctor about your child’s current or past health issues, including family members with eye problems.

If you have any questions about your child's eyes please feel free to contact me for more information.

 

Holly Rutherford-Allen, Executive Director

holly@kidsightcolorado.org  720-325-7078

 

 

August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month

Prevent Blindness America has declared this month Children’s Eye Health and Safety month to inspire parents to make their child’s vision a priority.  Health eyesight can help improve a child’s chance at success in the classroom.

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for children.  It is also a time when KidSight Colorado and parents can work together to give Colorado kids a healthy start.  Our program is gearing up for the start of the new school year and will be conducting screenings and providing educational information on the importance of good vision in children to parents and the community beginning this month.

According to the recent Cost of Vision Problems: The Economic Burden of Vision Loss and Eye Disorders in the United States study from Prevent Blindness America, vision disorders in children ages 0-17 cost Americans more than $5.7 billion in direct and indirect costs. In Colorado those costs were $84 million. Vision loss and blindness come at a tremendous cost.

That is why it is important for us to increase our screening efforts for children 2 to 6 years of age.  We can help prevent some of these problems and their associated costs by early screening for conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, anisometropia (unequal refractive power), strabismus (misaligned eyes) and anisocoria (unequal pupil).  These conditions are often indicators of amblyopia (lazy eye) which can cause permanently poor vision or even blindness in children if not detected early. 

If you know of a school or organization in Colorado that could benefit from a KidSight Colorado screening please let me know and I am happy to make the arrangements.  Let’s make sure all of Colorado’s kids have great vision as we begin the 2014-15 school year.

Please check out our website for additional resources about children’s eye health and safety or call us at 720-325-7078.

Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July

Are you thinking of viewing some fireworks on the 4th of July?  Think safety, especially if you have children nearby.  In 2013, approximately 11,400 fireworks related injuries were reported nationally.  Children under the age of 15 account for 40% of all injuries from fireworks and the risk of injury was highest in the 0-4 age group!

Eyes are the most frequently injured body part during this holiday.  More than 15 percent of these injuries result in vision loss or blindness.  Sparklers cause the most injuries because children often handle them on their own.  A sparkler typically burns at about 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bottle rockets cause some of the most serious injuries.

Under Colorado law, any device that explodes or leaves the ground is probably illegal.  This includes firecrackers, cherry bombs, bottle rockets and Roman Candles.  In addition towns and counties in Colorado may have more restrictive fireworks laws.  You can contact your local police or sheriff departments for laws in your community.

The safest way to enjoy the holiday is to attend a public fireworks display.  Celebrate responsibly and you can make sure everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Do Children Need Eye Protection from the Sun?

Despite the number of cloudy days we have had in Colorado the sun is definitely on its way!  Children and teenagers are particularly susceptible to the sun's damaging rays.  Kids and teens tend to spend more time outdoors than adults and the lenses of their eyes are more transparent than those of adults.  This allows more UV radiation to reach their retinas (the light sensitive layer at the back of the eyes).  Children should wear protective sunglasses when playing outdoors.

Along with visible light the sun give off ultraviolet radiation.  The earth's ozone layer absorbs part of the radiation but sunglasses are needed to protect against the rest of the ultraviolet radiation.

Studies show that long term exposure to ultraviolet light can contribute to the develop of eye problems and you can even sunburn your eyes.

The best protection against the sun's damaging rays is to always wear sunglasses.  Make sure your sunglasses block out both types of ultraviolet light UVA and UVB and have gray, green or brown lenses.  Always check the label on the sunglasses when you purchase them as many fashion tinted glasses do not offer this protection.

Have a safe and happy summer!

How Are Colorado’s Children Doing?

As I did last year in April I want to share with you a report on the status of Colorado’s children.  The 2015 KIDS COUNT in Colorado Report was published by the Colorado Children’s Campaign on March 23, 2015.  This report has been published annually for 22 years.  The report is part of the national KIDS COUNT project funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  The report includes a Child Well- Being Index that compares how children are faring in Colorado’s largest 25 counties by using indicators to assess children’s health, education and family and community support.  According to the report child well –being varies widely from community to community.
 
The index shows that Douglas County topped the list of Colorado counties with the best child well-being outcomes, while Fremont County ranked at the bottom of the list with childhood poverty rates of 31 percent.  Historically, Colorado’s highest child poverty rates have been found in the San Luis Valley and the southeastern region of the state.  Three counties, Alamosa, Costilla and Saguache,  are considered “persistently poor”.
 
Some of the key findings in the KIDS COUNT report include:
 
The percentage of children living in poverty declined in Colorado in 2013 after several years of increases.  This is the first drop in the child poverty rate since 2008.  17 percent of Colorado children (approximately 207,000 children).  However, nearly twice as many Colorado children lived in poverty in 2013 as in 2000.
The number of children living in food-insecure households has started to decline as participation in SNAP (the food stamp program) has increased.  On average, 19 percent of Colorado children live in food-insecure households, down from 21 percent between 2007 and 2009.  However, this number is still higher than the 16 percent reported almost a decade ago.  Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of inadequate nutrition since their brains and bodies are developing rapidly.  Many families in this situation rely on low cost foods which tend to be highly processed and less nutritious than more expensive food.
Colorado continues to make progress at decreasing the number of uninsured children.  In 2013 about 9 percent of Colorado kids were uninsured, down from 14 percent between 2004 and 2006.  La Plata and Montezuma counties have the largest percentage of uninsured children at 19.9 percent.
Across Colorado, slightly fewer than half (49 percent) of all 3 and 4 year old children are enrolled in a preschool program of some type.  Preschool enrollment rates are lowest In Colorado among children of color and children in low income families, who are most at risk of starting school unprepared.  While preschool enrollment has increased slightly in recent years, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with the sharp rise in children eligible for, and parents interested in, services like the Colorado Preschool Program. 
Child care continues to be a large burden for many Colorado families, both in terms of affordability and availability.  Center based care for a 4 year old in Colorado was the sixth least affordable in the country at $9,781 per year.  Infant care is even more expensive at $13,143  and was more than the cost of tuition at a four year college or university.
Poverty rates decreased for children of all racial and ethnic backgrounds between 2012 and 2013, but the gaps between children of color and their non-Hispanic white peers remained very wide.  In 2013, Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino children were more than three times as likely to live in poverty as non-Hispanic white children.
 
 You can read the entire 2015 KIDS COUNT in Colorado Report published by the Colorado Children’s Campaign on their website at  coloradokids.org.  The website also has additional information about child health, early childhood and K-12 education.
 
  
Holly Rutherford-Allen
Executive Director
720-325-7078