KIDS COUNT Report: NM Still Ranked 49th in Nation for Child Well-Being

Some areas see improvement, others see decline

July 21, 2015
For Immediate Release

ALBUQUERQUE—New Mexico has seen small improvements in some areas of child well-being over the last few years, but those gains are counteracted by declines in other areas. For 2015, the state’s national KIDS COUNT® ranking stays at 49th—unmoved since last year—in the new edition of the KIDS COUNT Data Book, which was released today.

The national KIDS COUNT Data Book, released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks the 50 states on 16 indicators of child well-being that fall into the categories of Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family and Community. As with last year, New Mexico is ranked 49th. The state had dropped to 50th in 2013.

“Child poverty continues to increase in New Mexico, and that does not bode well for the future of our state,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which runs the KIDS COUNT program in New Mexico. “If we want to tackle child poverty then we must see more effort in improving educational and health outcomes. Healthy and educated children will have a fighting chance of moving out of poverty,” she said.

New Mexico’s child poverty rate was 29 percent in last year’s Data Book (using 2012 data). That has risen to 31 percent in the new report that uses 2013 data. Similarly, the percentage of children living in high-poverty areas increased—from 22 percent (2008-12 data) to 24 percent (2009-13 data). The long-term data are even worse. The number of children living in high-poverty areas has increased by 25,000 kids since 2006-10, and 27,000 more children live in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment than did in 2008.

“Over the last several years we’ve seen 38,000 children fall into poverty in New Mexico. That is simply not acceptable,” said Dr. García. “Poverty has very detrimental effects on children. If we want them to succeed in life—to be the next generation of doctors, entrepreneurs, teachers and leaders—we need to ensure that they have the opportunities that will put them on the right path early in life.”

The bright spots in the data as compared to last year’s release include the percentage of high school students not graduating on time (decreasing from 29 percent to 26 percent), the child and teen death rate (decreasing from 33 per 100,000 to 28 per 100,000) and the teen birth rate (decreasing from 47 per 1,000 to 43 per 1,000). The improvements in child and teen death rates and teen birth rates mirror a nationwide trend where these indicators have continued to improve over a number of years.

“The solutions to our child poverty problem are not rocket science,” said Dr. Garcia. “We know what works—ensuring that children have the high-quality care and learning experiences in the early years to support robust brain development, ensuring they can see a doctor and have enough nutritious food, and providing our schools and educators with the resources they need to do their jobs properly. These are ways to meet some of their basic needs. But we also must ensure that their parents have the opportunities they need to improve their own lot—from support for continuing education, job training, and child care to ensuring decent wages and earned sick leave.”

The Casey Foundation makes similar policy recommendations found in the 2014 report, Creating Opportunity for Families: A Two-Generation Approach.

The 2015 KIDS COUNT Data Book and the state profiles are available online at http://www.aecf.org/work/kids-count/. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The New Mexico profile is online here: http://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/NM-profile-2015.pdf.

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KIDS COUNT is a program of New Mexico Voices for Children and is made possible by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.

625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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U.S. Senator, CYFD Secretary, Emmy-Winning Documentarian Among Those to Appear at KIDS COUNT Conference

Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-founder of the Moral Monday movement, to give keynote

MEDIA ADVISORY
June 29, 2015
For Planning Purposes

ALBUQUERQUE—U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, will unveil new legislation that he is sponsoring in Congress, at the 3rd Annual KIDS COUNT Conference presented today by New Mexico Voices for Children. The theme of this year’s conference is Child Well-Being: A 2-Generation Approach. There is a full slate of speakers for the day-long event, which includes the presentation of the 21st annual Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Awards, a special screening of the documentary on child abuse, Everyone’s Business: Protecting our Children, and a panel on child abuse, which includes CYFD Secretary Monique Jacobson and Children’s Court Judge John Romero.

Other speakers include Lisa Hamilton with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Richard Noriega of AVANCE, Marjorie Sims of the Aspen Institute, and Dr. Cathleen Willging of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. A full program of the day’s speakers and events is attached separately as a pdf.

The Reverend Dr. William Barber, president of the NAACP of North Carolina and a dynamic speaker, will give the keynote address at lunch right after the presentation of the Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Awards, which honor young New Mexicans who are working to make a difference in their communities and the world. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas will also address the winners, and KOB TV news anchor Nicole Brady will emcee the awards.

The conference’s afternoon session will include the film screening and panel discussion moderated by the film’s producer, Chris Schueler. Senator Heinrich will close out the event by unveiling his Two-Generation Economic Empowerment legislation.

WHAT: 3rd Annual KIDS COUNT Conference “Child Well-Being: A 2-Generation Approach to Success”
WHEN: Today, Monday, June 29, 7:15am to 3:30pm (breakfast and lunch will be served)
WHERE: Marriott Pyramid, 5151 San Francisco Rd. NE, Albuquerque
WHO: Presented by New Mexico Voices for Children and Presenting Sponsor CHI St. Joseph’s Children
Sponsors: Brindle Foundation, Nusenda Credit, AFT, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Center for RelationaLearning, CES, Con Alma Health Foundation, Delta Dental, Youth Development, Inc., Bank of Albuquerque, Early Educators United, Don Simonson. Special thanks to: Annie E Casey Foundation, Sandy Gold, McCune Foundation, Santa Fe Community Foundation.

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Four Youths to be Honored for Advocacy, Community Service Work

21st Annual Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Awards to be presented at annual conference

June 26, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—The 21st annual Amy Biehl Youth Spirit Awards will be presented to four remarkable youth on Monday, June 29 as part of the 3rd annual KIDS COUNT Conference. The awards presentation will begin at 11:30am and will be followed by the dynamic speaker Reverend Dr. William Barber. KOB TV anchor Nicole Brady will emcee the awards, and Attorney General Hector Balderas will be on hand to congratulate the winners.

The awards are given to New Mexico youth who are making a difference in their communities through advocacy or community service work. The award is named in honor of Amy Biehl, a graduate of Santa Fe High School who was killed at the age of 26 in a race riot while working in South Africa to end apartheid. Nominees are divided into two age groups: 13-18 and 19-26. A first and second place winner is chosen from each group. The two first place winners each receive a $1,000 cash scholarship and the second place winners each receive $500.

“This is always a very uplifting event that gives us hope for the future,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “These young people do amazing and often very innovative things. It’s an honor to be able to recognize them for their contributions to making the world a better place.”

A total of 12 youths were nominated for this year’s awards. The four winners are:

Rafael Mario Colon (age 17, of Albuquerque, 1st place in the 13-18 age group) serves as a Teen Ambassador for Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico, organizes fundraising events and donation drives for causes such as Los Ojos de la Familia and Alta Mira Family Services, and travels to El Salvador to provide assistance to families living in poverty.

Nicole Baty (age 26, of Albuquerque, 1st place in the 19-26 age group) is active in the National Society of Black Engineers where she has organized Kids Science and Sustainability Days, held STEM workshops, initiated STEM after-school activities, provided hands-on demonstrations for elementary school children, and taken part in a joint initiative with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Nicole also volunteers with KUNM’s Generation Justice and instructs middle and high school students with the Hands-on-Minds-on Technology organization.

Ulysses Yarbrough (age 13, of Ohkay Owingeh, 2nd place in the 13-18 age group) has been a docent at the Albuquerque Natural History Museum, used his musical talent to raise money for scholarships given out by the Sky Velvet Vassar Music Foundation, gave an articulate and effective speech at the Roundhouse in 2014 in support of gun safety legislation.

Susanna Derby (age 26, of Albuquerque, 2nd place in the 19-26 age group) recently organized a successful Earth Day celebration at Santa Domingo Pueblo where she worked with community and school leaders to provide hands-on educational activities focused on earth-friendly practices. She has also worked for Peace First, AmeriCorps and American Indian Health.

The awards presentation will begin at 11:30am, Monday, June 29, 2015 at the Marriott Pyramid, 5151 San Francisco Rd. NE, in Albuquerque, and is part of the 3rd annual KIDS COUNT Conference (conference schedule is attached as a pdf).

Photos of the four winners are available on request.

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The conference is presented by New Mexico Voices for Children and Presenting Sponsor CHI St. Joseph’s Children. The awards are sponsored by the Bank of Albuquerque and Early Educators United. Other event sponsors are Brindle Foundation, Nusenda Credit, AFT, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, Center for RelationaLearning, CES, Con Alma Health Foundation, Delta Dental, Youth Development, Inc., and Don Simonson. Special thanks to: Annie E. Casey Foundation, Sandy Gold, McCune Foundation, Santa Fe Community Foundation.

New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.

625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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Child Advocates Applaud Supreme Court Decision and Urge Lawmakers to Move Forward

MEDIA STATEMENT
June 25, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—New Mexico Voices for Children issued the following statement regarding today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold tax credits under the Affordable Care Act:

“Although New Mexico would not been adversely impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision either way, we’re pleased that the nation’s highest court has again upheld the Affordable Care Act,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “A negative decision would have meant the loss of health care for millions of Americans. That would have been disastrous for them personally and contrary to what we stand for as a nation.

“The ACA has tremendously benefited New Mexico – improving not just the health of our people, but the health of our economy, as well. Moving forward, we need to ensure that we continue to expand health coverage to everyone. It is in everyone’s best interests that we meet our obligations and fully fund Medicaid in the coming years. The importance of the Affordable Care Act to New Mexico’s people and economy cannot be overstated.”

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New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.

625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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Report: Too Many Foster Kids Unnecessarily in Group Homes

NM does better than most states at placing kids with families and relatives

May 19, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that, nationally, one in every seven children in the welfare system is in a group home. This, despite the fact that more than 40 percent of these children have no clinical need to be in such restrictive settings. The Casey Foundation report, “Every Kid Needs a Family,” makes the case that children do better when they are placed in a family setting.

“We have an obligation to help all of our kids succeed,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “If our children couldn’t live with us, we would want them to live with someone close to us – and if that couldn’t happen, with a caring foster family who could provide them with as normal a life as possible during a turbulent time. This report shows more kids can live safely in families and get the nurturing they need while under the care and protection of our child welfare systems.”

New Mexico does better than many states in terms of placing children in family settings, according to the report. While 84 percent of foster children nationally are in family placements, the percentage in New Mexico is 92. Just six states have a higher percentage of children in family placements than New Mexico.

New Mexico also does well in terms of the percentage of children who are placed in kinship care—in the care of a relative such as grandparents. Five percent of New Mexico’s foster kids are in the care of relatives. Only four states have a higher percentage.

“I think the kinship care rate speaks to our cultural roots and history—New Mexico is very family-focused,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which is a grantee of the Casey Foundation. “As a state we must do our best to support these special families and the children in their care by ensuring that they can access the benefits those children are entitled to and that they have assistance in navigating those systems,” she added.

The Casey Foundation report, “Every Kid Needs a Family,” is available online at http://www.aecf.org/resources/every-kid-needs-a-family/.

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KIDS COUNT is a program of New Mexico Voices for Children and is made possible by funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.

625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

 

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Report: NM has Made Third Largest Cuts to Higher Ed since Recession

Resulting tuition increases make college less affordable for low-income students

May 14, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE— New Mexico is spending $4,383 less per student than it did before 2008, when adjusted for inflation. Only two states—Louisiana and Alabama—have made deeper cuts. And although most states—including New Mexico—have increased funding for higher ed over the last few years, 47 states are still spending less per student on higher education than before the recession.

These are among the findings of a report released this week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). As a result of these cuts, tuition at the nation’s public colleges and universities has increased on average almost 30 percent since 2008 on a per-student, inflation-adjusted basis. New Mexico’s tuition increase was just slightly lower at about 28 percent.

The report’s authors believe funding cuts and tuition increases jeopardize the nation’s economic future, as fewer adults have the opportunity to earn college degrees.

“Investments in higher education are essential in building New Mexico’s workforce and improving our economy,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D, executive director of NM Voices for Children. “New Mexico has high rates of poverty and that is not likely to change until we ensure that a college education is affordable for everyone.”

Besides raising tuition, many states have also cut faculty and academic programs. Students are also facing enormous student loan debt, which will inhibit their ability to purchase a home and make other positive contributions to their communities and the economy.

“Policy makers like to claim that they aren’t raising taxes, but hiking tuition to cover funding cuts has the same effect as raising taxes—except that these new expenses are leveled squarely at those who can least afford it, young people just starting out,” Dr. García said. “The small funding increases of the past few years have not restored higher ed to its pre-recession levels. Instead of cutting taxes for profitable corporations—which amounts to giving away money we don’t have in pursuit of jobs that don’t materialize—we should be investing in the next generation of New Mexico’s workforce. That’s a proven economic development plan,” she added.

The CBPP report is available online at: http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/years-of-cuts-threaten-to-put-college-out-of-reach-for-more-students.

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New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. Our fiscal policy work is funded by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, the WK Kellogg Foundation, and the Working Poor Families Project.

625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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National Report: Minority Families in New Mexico and Nation Falling Behind

Hispanic immigrants at greatest risk; study includes recommendations for state

March 16, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE— A sharp racial/ethnic divide has emerged within the world of low-income working families, posing a critical equity and economic challenge to New Mexico and the nation, a new study concludes.

Hispanics and African-Americans, who will continue to emerge as a larger segment of the workforce, will remain under-prepared and underpaid unless lawmakers in New Mexico are willing to pursue policies that would improve conditions.

The disturbing portrait of America’s low-income working families was sketched by the Working Poor Families Project based on new analysis of the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Project’s study sheds a fresh light on what’s happening inside the world of the working poor, where adults are working hard but finding it difficult if not impossible to get ahead. And within this world at the bottom of America’s economic spectrum, a stark divide has emerged between white and Asian families compared to black and Hispanic families.

“In 2013, working families headed by racial/ethnic minorities were twice as likely to be poor or low-income compared with non-Hispanic whites, a gap that has increased since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007,” the authors write. “The significant differences among racial/ethnic groups present a critical challenge to ensuring economic growth and bringing opportunities to all workers, families and communities across the United States.”

“As a majority-minority state—60 percent of our adults and 74 percent of our children are racial/ethnic minorities—New Mexico can be considered a bellwether of the nation’s impending demographic changes,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “Unfortunately, New Mexico is also a high-poverty state. Lawmakers have made some headway in promoting policies to alleviate poverty and in taking a targeted approach to reducing educational disparities among our racial/ethnic minorities. However, the state still must move forward to advance low-income working families by supporting a statewide career pathways framework, providing need-based financial aid for college students, and increasing the rate of minority adults with post-secondary credentials and degrees.”

Hispanic children are particularly at risk because so many of their low-income working families include at least one immigrant parent, the data show. Despite a high work ethic, Hispanic immigrants are among the most disadvantaged with lower earnings, less education, and little health care. Nationally, some 14 million of the 24 million children who live in low-income working families belong to racial or ethnic minorities. This bodes poorly for the nation’s future as children who grow up in low-income families face the very real prospect of never escaping poverty, the study found.

Disparities cannot be erased overnight, but policymakers can start to reduce the gaps with a two-pronged approach that simultaneously increases access to education and training while enacting policies that “make work pay,” the researchers assert. Among the recommendations for state governments are:

  • Raising the minimum wage.
  • Increasing need-based financial aid for post-secondary education, and expanding child care assistance and other supports for students with children.
  • Supporting programs that link education to career opportunities and helping English language learners.
  • Encouraging employers to provide paid sick leave for all workers.

The Working Poor Families Project report, “Low-Income Working Families: The Racial/Ethnic Divide,” is available online at: http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/WPFP-2015-Report_Racial-Ethnic-Divide.pdf

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New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.
The Working Poor Families Project is a national initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and Kresge Foundation, and is managed by Brandon Roberts + Associates.
625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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Making College More Affordable Would Pay Off for the State

Legislature urged to change lottery scholarship, restore College Affordability Fund

March 12, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—Making college more affordable for its low-income population would pay the state big dividends down the road. Having a better educated workforce would help attract higher-paying jobs to the state, which would lead to more economic activity. In addition, boosting the educational level of the state’s adults would improve the educational outcomes of our children. Those are among the points made in a report released today by New Mexico Voices for Children.

“Education and money are inexorably linked,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of the child advocacy agency. “Higher pay comes with higher education, but you need money to get that education. If you were born into a family that doesn’t have enough of either, the odds are stacked against you. With such a high percentage of New Mexicans on the wrong side of that equation, the state has a real interest in changing the odds.”

Just 34 percent of adults in New Mexico have a college degree, compared to the national average of 40 percent. Not surprisingly, New Mexico has more lower-paying jobs requiring little education. With lower income levels comes less economic activity for the state. Earning poor wages also makes it more difficult for New Mexicans to pursue a college degree. Given this cycle, it would make sense for the state to make much of its financial aid available on a needs-basis, but that is not the case. Just 25 percent of New Mexico’s scholarships are need-based, while the U.S. average of need-based scholarships is 74 percent.

The Legislature is currently considering bills that are in line with some of the report’s recommendations, including making the lottery scholarship need-based (SB 657) and restoring money to the College Affordability Fund (SB 488 and HB 401), which was emptied for other purposes during leaner budget years.

“While the lottery scholarship has allowed countless New Mexicans to pursue a college degree, we also need to put more focus on breaking down financial barriers for less traditional students—such as New Mexicans who have been out of high school for a while and those who need help with child care and other living expenses,” Dr. Garcia said.

The report, “Making College More Affordable for Working Families: A Critical Investment in New Mexico,” funded by the Working Poor Families Project, is available online at http://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/College-Affordability-rpt-web.pdf.

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New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities. The Working Poor Families Project is a national initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and Kresge Foundation, and is managed by Brandon Roberts + Associates.
625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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Report: Safety-Net Programs Lift 100,000 NM Children Out of Poverty

Supplemental Poverty Measure shows value of programs, need to address income

February 25, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—If it were not for governmental anti-poverty programs—such as SNAP, housing assistance, and tax credits—an additional 100,000 New Mexico children would live below the poverty level. That’s among the conclusions in a report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The KIDS COUNT® Data Snapshot, Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, reveals how the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) more accurately measures poverty because it takes into account the value of programs that aim to reduce poverty. New Mexico’s child poverty rate in 2011-2013 was 36 percent, but falls to 16 percent when these programs are taken into account with the SPM.

“This tells us that anti-poverty programs are working to improve the lives of New Mexico children,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which is a grantee of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “It also tells us how important it is to keep these programs fully funded and serving the families that rely on them.”

The official Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is based on family income, determines eligibility for anti-poverty programs, most of which are funded by the federal government. The SPM was created to determine if these programs are having the desired effect. It not only includes the value of these programs to the families that receive them, it also takes into account the cost of living in different regions of the country. The SPM shows that states like New Mexico, where the cost of living is low, benefit more from anti-poverty programs.

“It’s critical to have programs that help parents put enough food on the table, pay the rent, and keep the utilities turned on. And while the supplemental poverty measure shows us the extent to which these programs are helpful, it also shows us, conversely, how much work we still have to do in order to give families the tools they need to better support their families,” Dr. García said. “We need the kinds of two-generation policies and programs that help families raise themselves out of poverty, including more resources for parents to improve their levels of education, expanding access to high-quality early childhood services, changing tax policies so the lowest-income earners don’t shoulder the lion’s share of the responsibility, and creating more jobs that pay family-sustaining wages.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report, Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States, is available at http://www.aecf.org/resources/measuring-access-to-opportunity-in-the-united-states/.

A fact sheet explaining the differences in the two poverty measurements is attached as a pdf.

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NM KIDS COUNT Report: State Makes Little Progress on Child Well-Being

State Should Take a Two-Generation Approach to Solving Problems

January 20, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALBUQUERQUE—While New Mexico ranking rose slightly from 50th in 2013 to 49th in 2014 in the national KIDS COUNT rankings of child well-being, state policy makers not have managed to make much progress toward improving how well the state cares for its kids. The KIDS COUNT program measures 16 indicators of child well-being, and New Mexico saw improvement in just five of those. Worse, child poverty—a main factor in poor outcomes—actually increased (from 28 percent to 31 percent) even as it decreased in most of the rest of the nation.

These trends are tracked in the 2014 KIDS COUNT in New Mexico data book, being released today by New Mexico Voices for Children. The annual state KIDS COUNT report, which includes the most recent data on child well-being status, such as teen birth rates, preschool enrollment, and health insurance coverage—along with policy recommendations—makes it clear that state lawmakers should make it a priority to address the needs of all children by supporting a holistic, coordinated and two-generation approach that serves both children and their families.

“The fact that we’ve seen a deterioration in key indicators—child poverty, children living in high-poverty areas, children living in single-parent families, and reading and math proficiency scores, for example—shows us the importance of creating and taking action on a comprehensive plan to make New Mexico a better place for working families and their children,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of NM Voices, which runs the KIDS COUNT program in New Mexico. “We recognize that the data change over one year does not provide a trend, but it is still concerning that some of our worst child well-being outcomes continue to decline.”

The data book talks about the need to take a two-generation approach to reducing child poverty. Such an approach would mean coordinating services for children—such as health care, food benefits, and early care and education—with services that give their parents tools to improve the family’s economic situation. These would include programs that help parents gain more education and job training that also take child care needs into consideration.

“When children have a strong start in the very early years—from zero to five—they are much more likely to do well throughout school and life, so we need to increase our investments in those years. And since children grow up in families, we also need to ensure that all parents and guardians have the tools they need to be successful. That’s the way to make lasting progress, break the cycle of poverty, have an educated workforce, a strong economy and improve the quality of life for all New Mexicans,” she added.

As it did last year, the data book includes a section that tracks changes in the 16 indicators that are used in the national KIDS COUNT data book, which is released every summer by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This section also looks at legislation that has recently been enacted that aims to address these problems and presents data at the county level where available.

“In short, we must take bold action to mitigate the impacts of poverty on our children,” said Dr. Garcia. “The future of our state is being decided today and will be balanced on the investments we make—or fail to make—in our children.”

The data book is available online at http://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/2014-NM-Kids-Count-data-book.pdf

More data on child and family well-being are available at the state, county, school district, and tribal levels at http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data#NM

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                        KIDS COUNT is a program of New Mexico Voices for Children and is made possible by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

 New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.

625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org

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