While NM child well-being rankings remain low, advocates see improvements coming

By Mo Charnot, Santa Fe Reporter
June 12, 2024

While New Mexico remains in last place nationwide for child well being, according to a national study, local advocates say that ranking doesn’t tell the full story.

The 2024 Kids Count Data Book, released earlier this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, showed New Mexico 50th in the US for the third-year running.

“We understand how it can be frustrating to see the ranks stay the same, but we want to remind people that this data reflects 2022, not present-day,” Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children Gabrielle Uballez tells SFR. “It’s a data set where we expect some of the indicators to be getting worse, and it’s not all on New Mexico. That was the year a lot of federal tax credits for kids expired—Congress allowed them to expire—so, that was a big financial blow to a lot of families.”

Individual metrics provide a more accurate picture of New Mexico’s current status, she says. For instance, voters in 2022 passed Constitutional Amendment 1, which made New Mexico the first state to guarantee a right to early childhood education and allocated nearly $150 million per year from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education and care. One area this could significantly impact is the rate of three- and four-year-olds not in an early education program, which in 2022 was 59%.

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