Achievement, Opportunity Gaps Persist for Low-Income and Minority Children

November 4, 2013

CONTACT: Sharon Kayne, Communications Director, NM Voices for Children, 505-244-9505 

ALBUQUERQUE—Building on decades of research on child development and achievement, a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that the best investment strategies for improving our children’s educational outcomes are being underfunded across the nation. While some states have stepped up their investments in early childhood care and education, most states and the federal government significantly underfund programs for young children despite the overwhelming evidence of the programs’ efficacy and return on investment.

“New Mexico has made strides in investing in our youngest children, but more than 60 percent of our 3- and 4-year-olds are still not enrolled in preschool,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a Casey grantee. “We fail to significantly invest in young children at our own economic peril. They are our future workforce and until we ensure that they have the skills they need to succeed in school—and the workplace—we will continue to be a poor state that cannot attract good jobs.”

The Casey report, “The First Eight Years: Giving Kids a Foundation for Lifetime Success,” details how a large percentage of American children are shockingly behind in cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth at an early age. Just 19 percent of third graders from low-income families have the age-appropriate cognitive skills to succeed academically. Even among children from higher-income families, only 50 percent meet that benchmark.

The report recommends a system of high-quality, comprehensive birth-to-age-eight programs that address all areas of child development and are integrated with classroom learning. In addition, support systems, such as parental coaching programs, are needed for low-income parents who face greater struggles when it comes to raising healthy children.

“The Casey report touches on many of the policy solutions we recommend in the NM KIDS are COUNTing on Us policy agenda we released in September,” said Dr. García. “We are counting on lawmakers to show a sense of urgency about addressing these issues. We need to be willing to make the investments. For example, if we want a child care assistance program that improves K-12 outcomes then it will require increased learning standards and educator quality. We must remember that the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true,” she added.

The Casey report is available online at Additional information is available in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, which also contains the most recent national, state, and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being.

A New Mexico fact sheet is available online at


 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);

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private national philanthropy based in Baltimore that creates better futures for the nation’s children by strengthening families, building economic opportunities, and transforming neighborhoods into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit