An expert in policy advocacy and coalition building, Chaer leads CCLP’s work to help people meet their basic needs and expand economic opportunity. She also coordinates the Skills2Compete Colorado Coaliton and serves on the executive committee of the All Families Deserve a Chance (AFDC) coalition. Staff page ›

Mar 17, 2016

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ID program provides critical link for Colorado’s neediest families

by | Mar 17, 2016

It’s nearly impossible to get essentials such as health care, housing, employment and public benefits without a state-issued identification card. Citizens need a picture ID when opening a bank account, cashing a check and picking up prescriptions.

Unfortunately, obtaining an ID card can be nearly impossible for some of Colorado’s most vulnerable residents. The process often requires tracking down a birth certificate, a marriage certificate or a certified medical record. It takes time and money to secure such documents, some of which may need to be ordered from other states. It can easily cost $50 for just one document – a price that is prohibitively expensive for many low-income Coloradans.

There are often good reasons why these documents aren’t readily available. For example, seniors who were born at a home rather than a hospital might not have ever been issued a birth certificate. Others may have lost these documents in fires, floods or as a result of eviction. People fleeing domestic violence situations sometimes leave their documents behind and their abusers sometimes prevent access to their documents as a means of control.

Clearly, obtaining a photo ID is a critical conduit to getting Coloradans in difficult circumstances the care or services they need. Although a number of Colorado nonprofits provide assistance in helping people obtain an ID, these organizations generally don’t have the funds to pay the fees for the underlying documents on behalf of people in need – despite high demand.

To ensure that low-income Coloradans can access the legal documents needed to obtain an ID card, CCLP developed House Bill 1386, which would allow the Colorado ID Project to continue operating. HB1386 creates a $300,000 grant program to be administered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The funds will be used to assist with fees required to retrieve birth certificates, divorce and marriage decrees and other documents. Metro Caring serves as the lead agency for the Colorado ID project, which provided more than 4,800 forms of legal documents to low-income Coloradans in 2015.

As the lead agency, Metro Caring receives the funding and reimburses partner organizations who are involved in the project. A total of 22 Colorado organizations have committed to participate in the Colorado ID Project in 2016. These organizations help the client identify which documents are needed and then order or pay for the documents.

Considering that this program helps Colorado’s neediest citizens access basic services, including governmental services, the cost is nominal relative to the benefit. Indeed, legislators authorized such an expenditure last year, but legislation is needed to formalize the program so it can continue on an ongoing basis.

We encourage lawmakers to support HB 1386 and make a small – but critical — investment in the health and security of Coloradans who need it the most.

– Chaer Robert

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Remarks on Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization

The following remarks are provided by CCLP's executive director Tiffani Lennon. An attack on access to reproductive health is an attack on access to healthcare. Today’s attack on healthcare affects everyone, but particularly those experiencing poverty, with a...