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Major I-News investigations or reports.

Recent Stories

Jails, ERs bearing brunt of mental health funding decline

An ambulance arrives at Denver Health's emergency department on Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, where the director say the unit is seeing an unprecedented number of people landing in the emergency room with underlying mental illnesses. (Joe Mahoney/I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS)

They’re victims of car accidents, they’ve been shot, or they threatened their parents. They have overdosed on cocaine, swallowed too many pills or passed out drunk. On an average Friday or Saturday night, they can make up about half of the sick, injured and wounded crowding the rooms and hallways of the emergency department at Denver Health. And there’s one trait these patients have in common, says Dr. Chris Colwell, director of the department. Had they received needed prior treatment, they might not be there at all. Continue Reading →

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Challenged Family Structure Widens Gaps Between Colorado’s Major Population Groups

In analyzing the widening gaps between minority groups and whites in Colorado on key measures of social progress, there are harsh realities behind the numbers. One is that among homes with children living in poverty, 68 percent are headed by just one parent, typically the mother. Single parenthood is a bigger indicator of poverty than race, according to six decades of U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by I-News Network at Rocky Mountain PBS. Combined as it often is with curtailed educational and employment opportunities, the rise of the single-parent family is a major factor in the widening disparities between blacks, Latinos and white state residents since the decades surrounding the civil rights movement. The I-News analysis covered family income, poverty rates, high school and college graduation, and home ownership as reported by the Census Bureau from 1960 to 2010. Continue Reading →

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Success for Single Mom of Two Meant Experiencing the “Cliff Effect”

Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect from I-News on Vimeo. Watch the full documentary “Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect” at https://vimeo.com/68246853. The Cliff Effect report is an extension of “Losing Ground,” ( http://www.inewsnetwork.org/losingground )the I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS report released in January 2013 and published and broadcast statewide by more than two dozen media sources. Jeannett Escarcega has first-hand experience with what it means to suffer the “cliff effect.”

That’s what happens when even a minor raise in family income can lead to the termination of a work support benefit, leading to what often is a big net loss for the family involved. The cliff effect is one reason that federal reforms in 1996 to “end welfare as we know it” haven’t worked as well as they might. Continue Reading →

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Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect

The measures passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 “to end welfare as we know it” were heralded as a ticket to economic self-sufficiency. The poor would be encouraged to enter the workforce and eventually leave all welfare assistance behind. In this Colorado-based scenario, a single working parent with two children is shown breaking even with a combination of wages and work support benefits that include child care assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and income tax credits. However, as the parent’s earnings rise, she begins to lose benefits, with child care assistance the largest by far. The cliff effect occurs when even a modest increase in income leads to a complete termination of a benefit and a large net loss to the family. Continue Reading →

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Cliff Effect: Jennine Jeffries

Jennine Jeffries, 39, at the Tivoli Student Union on the Auraria Campus in Denver on Friday, May 24, 2013. She was featured in the Rocky Mountain PBS documentary, "The Cliff Effect."

Jennine Jeffries is a woman with an engaging smile, a firm handshake and an articulate yet unvarnished way of telling her own story: Broken and abusive childhood home, a frequent runaway and juvenile delinquent, alcohol and drug addictions as she became a popular bartender, a stint in jail. But her story doesn’t stop there. Continue Reading →

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Self-sufficiency: An illusive vision

In this Colorado-based scenario, a single working parent with two children is shown breaking even with a combination of wages and work support benefits that include child care assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and income tax credits. However, as the parent’s earnings rise, she begins to lose benefits, with child care assistance the largest by far.
The cliff effect occurs when even a modest increase in income leads to a complete termination of a benefit and a large net loss to the family.

The measures passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 “to end welfare as we know it” were heralded as a ticket to economic self-sufficiency. The poor would be encouraged to enter the workforce and eventually leave all welfare assistance behind. But for most of the tens of thousands of working poor families in Colorado, the vision of self-sufficiency is illusive. One of the most significant components of the work support programs – child care assistance – doesn’t reach about three-fourths of the state’s working poor and generally fails the other fourth’s attempt to escape poverty, according to an I-News analysis of state data, census figures and Colorado-specific research reports, as well as interviews with benefit recipients, policy experts and government officials. The I-News inquiry found:

Working families can fall prey to the “cliff effect,” in which even a modest rise in family income can lead to termination of a government benefit, including subsidized child-care, worth thousands of dollars a year. Continue Reading →

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Gun deaths: Suicide rate quadruple homicide rate

During the 12-year span between the mass shootings at Columbine and Aurora, Coloradans used guns to kill themselves about four times more frequently than they used them to kill each other, an I-News analysis of death certificates found. The analysis, which covered the years 2000 through 2011, also found that white residents disproportionately committed suicides with guns while minorities were disproportionately victims of homicide shootings. In the wake of the July 20 attack at the Century Aurora 16, which left 12 people dead and more than 50 injured, state legislators introduced a flurry of measures, including proposals to prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines, impose universal background checks, and ban people with concealed weapons permits from carrying guns on college campuses. The bills have sparked sometimes-emotional debate and prompted large protests as gun rights activists and supporters of the proposals beseeched lawmakers and Gov. John Hickenlooper. Earlier this week, a plane circling central Denver towed a banner that read: “Hick: Don’t Take Our Guns.” Continue Reading →

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Colorado legislators consider disparities legislation

Two Colorado lawmakers plan to push for a comprehensive examination of racial and ethnic inequality in the state as a precursor to future legislation aimed at closing some of the gaps that separate Latinos and African Americans from whites. State Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Angela Williams, D-Denver, said they plan to introduce the measure, which would create a commission to take a detailed look at specific areas where racial and ethnic minorities lag in Colorado. Their plan is to examine everything from education funding to job pay and contracting, to major disparities in incarceration rates. I-News Partners: Click here to download a plain text version of this story and the accompanying photos. Continue Reading →

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