Annual NM Kids Count Data Book Unveiled on First Day of Session

PRESS RELEASE
Jan. 15, 2019
For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children
505-361-1288 (direct), 505-401-8709 (c), skayne@nmvoices.org
OR: Marie-Pier Frigon, Communications Assistant, mfrigon@nmvoices.org

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—There’s good news and bad news. First the good news: the rate of child poverty in New Mexico has decreased. The bad news: our state still ranks 48th in the nation for child poverty. That’s one of the conclusions found within the data in the 2018 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, released today at a press conference. The annual report, produced by New Mexico Voices for Children, includes the most recent data on the status of child well-being at the state, county, tribal, and school district levels.

“Although we saw improvement in child poverty, we’re still ranked near the bottom of the nation because other states saw larger improvements,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices. “As poverty can have a detrimental impact on all aspects of a child’s well-being, solving poverty definitely has to be our first order of business.”

The data book shows that New Mexico has been in line with many national trends over the past few years. These include improvements in the rates of teen pregnancy, children who live in high poverty areas, and lack health insurance, as well as the rate of high school students not graduating on time. However, New Mexico lags the nation on all of these indicators except health insurance. One of the indicators where New Mexico is diverging from the nation is the rate of children living in families where no parent has full-time, year-round employment. While the national rate shows some improvement, New Mexico continues on a downward trend.

Along with data on child well-being, the report includes numerous policy recommendations that would improve child well-being. Among them is enacting a child tax credit, which is needed to counteract the tax increase that families with children are facing because of the federal tax cuts for corporations enacted in 2018.

“However, in order to change the statistics for the long run we need to invest for the long run which means we must reduce our reliance on volatile oil revenues. By enacting progressive tax reform we ensure that the investments we are poised to make in our health and education systems are not lost the next time oil prices go down. Breaking this boom-bust cycle is crucial for showing educators, health care workers and families that we are making a long-term commitment. We also need to raise the minimum wage, make child care assistance co-pays decrease more gradually as income increases so parents don’t lose all assistance at once, and increase the Working Families Tax Credit, among other things,” Jimenez said. “We are optimistic that the new governor has chosen to change course and has promised to make many of these issues a priority,” he added.

The release takes place at a 10am press conference in the Capitol rotunda as part of Children and Youth Day, which will include the “State of the Youth” address, presented by youths from several local organizations.

NOTE: Interviews will be available in Spanish

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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. KIDS COUNT is a program of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
625 Silver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org