The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCS) is the state’s only comprehensive survey on the health and well-being of young people. The purpose of this survey is to better understand youth health and the factors that help young people make healthy choices. HKCS is widely used by schools, districts and communities in their efforts to grow the healthiest youth in the country. The results of the survey can help: • Inform the creation of programming to support student academic success. • Provide direction for schools and communities to address health issues. • Inform parents on relevant topics to help them talk to their children about their health and well-being. • Secure youth health program funding for schools, community organizations, and local and state government agencies.
BACKGROUND The state has been surveying young people about their health since 1991. In 2011, the state combined various surveys to streamline efforts and enhance data collection. This unified youth health survey reduces the burden on schools and allows us to better meet the data needs of schools, local communities and government agencies. The Survey is designed and implemented through a collaboration of the departments of Public Health and Environment, Education, Human Services, and Public Safety; Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical campus; and a community advisory committee of more than 40 organizations.
HOW IT WORKS HKCS is completely voluntary. The survey have many levels of consent, including districts, schools and parents before the survey is administered. The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey has a rigorous policy to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of young people taking the survey. No names are collected, teachers are instructed on how to protect student privacy and results are anonymous. Research shows that young people respond just as credibly as adults on anonymous and confidential health surveys. Data analysis includes thorough checks to omit the very small percentage of young people who falsify their answers. Asking a young person questions on a survey does not influence their health behavior. In fact, we have seen risky health behaviors steadily decline nationwide since youth survey activities amplified more than 25 years ago. The middle school survey does not include questions about sexual activity. METHODOLOGY The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) that has been conducted on a two-year cycle since 1991. Professional researchers randomly select students, schools and classrooms to represent students in grades 6-12. Researchers weigh results to represent student enrollment in all Colorado public middle and high schools. The weights account for sampling design; school and student nonparticipation and nonresponse; and differences in grade, sex and ethnicity between the sample and the population.