April 21, 2020 / 5:51 p.m. — Most of the children without internet access are Hispanic and have a parent who is an essential worker
Two-thirds of Colorado children without internet access at home are Hispanic, and the majority have at least one parent who is an essential worker, according to a new report from an economic think tank at Colorado State University.
Essential industries include the 12 critical businesses as defined in Gov. Jared Polis’ COVID-19 order, such as construction, sanitation, child care and safety workers.
“At least one of the parents is having to juggle working during this very difficult time with also having a young child who is at home trying to distance learn in an environment where there is not internet access in the house,” says economist Phyllis Resnick, executive director of the Colorado Futures Center.
The report analyzed the characteristics of the 54,000 school-age children in Colorado living in households reporting no internet access — that’s 1 child of 20. Students without internet service are at risk of returning to school next year having had little or no formal access to schooling for six months.
“That gap is likely to open up a lot wider if we don’t rally around these children and provide them the support they need,” Resnick said.
The report found more than half of children without internet access live in households earning less than $50,000, with a quarter in households earning less than $25,000. One in four are headed by a single parent. The children live in all regions of the state but are in higher numbers in southwest Colorado and in the metro Denver region. The majority are elementary school students.
The researchers posed questions in the report such as whether state officials and philanthropists can work quickly to develop programs that use the summer months to provide education support to vulnerable children. In addition, they ask if schooling can be provided to children of essential workers who may be receiving child care from the state.