Act NOW to Save the HKCS Survey!
Members of Colorado’s State Board of Education are still trying to do away with the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, a voluntary and anonymous survey conducted in schools across Colorado that provides statewide information about the status of youth health and well-being. The survey is conducted every two years and is supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS).
Over 40,000 randomly-selected youth in 224 middle and high schools throughout the state participated in the 2013 survey. This participation rate was great! It meant that we had enough data to make educated assumptions about the health behaviors – both risks and resiliencies – of most young people across the state. This, in turn, helps us target funding for programs, education, and services to reach the greatest number of youth with the greatest need.
However, some still believe, incorrectly, that asking youth questions about their health behaviors might encourage them to initiate or engage in said-behaviors. It does not. Members of Colorado's State Board of Education are trying to require schools to use parental “opt-in” (or “active consent”) to this anonymous, optional survey. This would have a significant negative impact on our ability to collect the volume of data that we need to select and prioritize the most relevant programs for young people across the state.
While an overwhelming majority of concerned community members – including parents, educators, medical providers and students themselves – shared their support for keeping the HKCS as it is at the March meeting, members of the State Board of Ed still want to hear from parents about their experience with the survey in April.
Here are some important facts to know about the survey:
- School districts choose if they want to participate or not. They also choose which questions to include (or not).
- The survey is offered to every middle and high school in Colorado.
- Most other states across the country conduct a similar survey.
- Information is collected on behaviors related to a variety of health and well-being issues including but not limited to: depression; tobacco, alcohol and other drug use; sexual health; physical activity and nutrition.
- "Protective factor" information is also collected, such as volunteerism, extracurricular activities and if young people have trusted adults in their lives.
The main reason to support this survey is because schools, districts and other youth-serving professionals across the state use this information to identify how to spend precious resources to improve the health and well-being of young people - based on the perspectives of young people themselves. An opt-in process would be burden schools, and would compromise the amount of data that we would obtain to help make informed decisions about programming and funding for youth.
Steps You Can Take NOW:
- Email your State Board of Education representative today and tell them that you know they are making decisions about collecting data in schools and why the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is important to you. Individual contact information for each State Board of Education representative is listed below.
- Use this sample letter as a template or write your own.
- Emphasize that the data collected in the survey is already optional, voluntary and anonymous.
- Share your voice – especially if you are a parent of a middle and/or high school-aged student, and most especially of students who have taken the survey.
State Board of Education contact information (look up your district here):
Thanks for your support and action on behalf of Colorado youth!