Annual KIDS COUNT Data Book Released During Session to Educate Lawmakers
January 19, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-361-1288 (direct), email
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on New Mexico’s children, families, communities, and small businesses. But not all of the hardship has been felt equally. Families of color – Hispanic families in particular – have been hardest hit by income losses and are more likely to be having trouble paying their usual household expenses and putting enough food on the table.
That is one of the findings in the 2021 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book, which was released today via a virtual press conference.
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, and teen birth rates. 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.
“Child well-being was steadily improving prior to the onset of the pandemic, and much of that was due to changes in public policies that made kids and working families a priority,” said Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which publishes the annual data book. “If lawmakers continue putting kids and families first, we expect to see even more improvements. However, in order to ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic and recession, these policies must consider the unique barriers faced by our children, families, and communities of color.”
Again this year, the Data Book includes 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 as 2020 data are limited as a result of the pandemic.
“Although 2020 data are limited, we are able to see that the pandemic has led to increases in childhood food insecurity, greater numbers of children enrolled in Medicaid, and significantly higher numbers of chronically absent students,” said Emily Wildau, the KIDS COUNT coordinator for NM Voices. “It is our hope that these data points can inform the Legislature to remain focused on child and family well-being and invest in programs that will specifically address these issues .”
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.
The 2021 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book is available for download at https://www.nmvoices.org/archives/16481.
Slides from the press conference are here. (Jan. 2022; 14 slides; pdf)
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