NM KIDS COUNT: Indicators Key Predictors for New Mexico’s Economic Future

Annual Report Does Not Bode Well for State’s Future

PRESS RELEASE
January 15, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children
505-244-9505 ext. 110 (p), 505-401-8709 (c), 505-244-9509 (f), skayne@nmvoices.org

ALBUQUERQUE—New Mexico Voices for Children released its annual New Mexico KIDS COUNT report today as part of Celebrating Children and Youth Day at the state Capitol.

The annual report tracks child well-being by providing data on important indicators such as child poverty, child maltreatment rates, math and reading proficiency, teen birth rates by race/ethnicity, and more. These data should be viewed within the larger context of the national KIDS COUNT data book, released last summer, in which New Mexico ranked 49th in the nation for child well-being.

“These data, coupled with our consistently low national ranking, serve as a reminder that New Mexico children deserve better,” said Dr. Veronica C. García, NM Voices’ Executive Director, who presented the report to the gathered audience. “News that child well-being continues to slip downward will hopefully spur New Mexico lawmakers to action. It’s time to do something differently so that we don’t get stuck at rock-bottom rankings for child poverty, teen births, teen alcohol and drug abuse, as well as high school drop-out rates,” she added.

“Many of the KIDS COUNT indicators are key predictors for New Mexico’s future economic, health, and education success of our children,” said Dr. García. “All of us in New Mexico want to see hopeful indicators. We want to be confident that our children are set on a successful path from cradle to career. KIDS COUNT is our annual check-up. This year’s prognosis sends a clear message that trends are going the wrong way, and they are not going to turn around by themselves. Policy makers have the ability to make children a priority and invest in services that will directly help children and youth get on a path to success.”

High-quality early learning services for children from birth to age five are proven to help children get a good start in life. Entering Kindergarten ready to learn is the best way to ensure that children will read proficiently at 4th grade, graduate high school on time, and be less involved in substance abuse. “Yet, in New Mexico, early childhood programs still reach a tiny percentage of our young children and receive less than 2 percent of the state budget,” said García. “Until we are willing to invest in the kinds of programs that will lead to a well-educated workforce, we will never attract the sort of 21st century jobs that will vastly improve our economy.”

The 2012 New Mexico Kids Count report is available online at https://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/NMVC_2012DataBookFinal.pdf.

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KIDS COUNT is a program of New Mexico Voices for Children and is made possible by grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
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 Sliver Ave. SW, Suite 195, Albuquerque, NM 87102; 505-244-9505 (p); www.nmvoices.org