Annual KIDS COUNT Data Book Released Pre-session to Educate Lawmakers

PRESS RELEASE
Feb. 3, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—With a few exceptions, data show that child well-being in New Mexico had improved in 2019 over past years. But the COVID-19 pandemic and its recession have led to big challenges for many of our children and families. That’s the story in the 2020 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book, which was released today via a virtual press conference with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

This annual accounting of child well-being in the state tracks several indicators across four domains: economic security, education, health, and family and community. Indicators include issues such as child poverty and food insecurity rates, parental employment and education levels, teen birth rates, and the like. The report is released at the beginning of the legislative session each year to give lawmakers an idea of some of the needs of our children and families.

“We have been seeing a steady improvement in child poverty since 2016 – declining from 30% to 25%,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which publishes the annual data book. “Several family-centered polices have been enacted in the past couple of years – such as the increase in the Working Families Tax Credit – that we know will make a positive difference, but there’s still work to be done. We hope these data will inform the deliberations on the budget by the Governor and Legislature this legislative session.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham spoke at the press conference about some of her priorities for the current session. “We have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our children this year,” she said. “Among them – we’re on track to greatly expand education and care programs for our youngest children through the Land Grant Permanent Fund and we’re enacting an equity-first budget for public education that will ensure resources are going where they’re most needed.”

New this year are data specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. These data track issues such as economic insecurity, the loss of health insurance, and how COVID-19 rates are related to income levels. These data sets, however, are not comparable with the rest of the data points in the report, most of which are from 2019.

“Perhaps the most striking data set is the one showing the impact income levels have on COVID-19 infection rates in a community,” said Emily Wildau, the KIDS COUNT coordinator for NM Voices. “It really serves as a surrogate for the many ways in which social determinants of health impact families earning low incomes.”

While all of the data are available at the state level, several of the indicators (excluding the COVID-19-related data) include data on the county, tribal, and school district levels, and some is disaggregated by race and ethnicity. Each section includes a list of policy recommendations to improve outcomes for New Mexico’s children.

A fact sheet with some of the top data points is attached and the New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book is available for download at https://www.nmvoices.org/archives/15123.

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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