by Royale Da, KOAT TV
July 9, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —New Mexico is the worst in the nation when it comes to taking care of kids, according to a just-released study.

In partnership with Searchlight New Mexico, KOAT talked to an expert about what needs to change.

James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the election could be a big player in turning things around.

“Unfortunately, it [the study] showed we are now last in the nation for child well-being, once again,” he said.

He’s talking about the 2018 Kids Count Data Book that recently came out.

It ranks states on 16 categories dealing with child well-being

New Mexico ranked worst when it comes to kids living in poverty and their parents having full-time, reliable jobs.

Jimenez said it’s not all grim news.

“The statistics don’t show how strong and resilient our children are despite the tough economic circumstances we’ve been facing for the past decade now,” Jimenez said.

He said if people are frustrated it’s time to focus on those making policy decisions.

“We’ve tried to tax cut and budget cut our way to prosperity. This data shows that clearly didn’t work, we need a change of direction,” Jimenez said. “It’s clear that our elected officials are not doing enough to invest in children.”

He said it’s time to really turn up the pressure.

“We’re not investing in the types of programs that lift children and families out of poverty.” He said. “We, the public need to hold these candidates accountable for where we are in child well-being.”

He said to ask the candidates specifically what their plan is for improving public education.

Jimenez said it’s time lawmakers stop talking and start doing. But that won’t happen unless people demand it.

“That’s frustrating to us. Particularly when we hear people say children are our most valuable asset. What we say at Voices for Children is put your money where your mouth is,” he said.

Last year, New Mexico ranked 49th. The last time it ranked 50th was in 2013.

KOAT is featuring these stories in conjunction with The Searchlight Project. Check out its website for more stories like these.

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