State ranking moves from 50th to 49th over the year; change insignificant

July 22, 2014

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

ALBUQUERQUE—New Mexico moved up from the bottom ranking of 50th in the 2013 national KIDS COUNT rankings to 49th in child well-being in the 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. While improvement was made from the 2013 to 2014 editions of the report in some child well-being indicators—such as child poverty, high school graduation, and teen birth rates—others declined.

Key child well-being indicators that worsened from the 2013 data report to this year’s report include the percent of children living in single-parent families, the rate of children living in high-poverty areas, and the percentage of eighth graders who are not proficient in math.

“Although our ranking appears to have slightly improved, we cannot be complacent. New Mexico’s future economic success rides on the investments we make today,” said Dr. Veronica C. García, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which runs the New Mexico KIDS COUNT program. “The question is, are we ensuring that our youngest children—our future workforce—have access to the opportunities that will put and keep them on the path to success? There is no question as to whether New Mexico can create common-sense solutions. We are and always have been an innovative people. We just need to demand that our elected officials make the right investments.”

This is the 25th year the Casey Foundation has released the KIDS COUNT Data Book along with its rankings of the 50 states. New Mexico has never ranked above 40th. States are ranked according to how well children fare in 16 indicators impacting their ability to succeed in life. These include rates of children without health insurance, the percentage of children whose parents do not have secure employment or high school diplomas, fourth grade reading proficiency rates, and the like.

“If we continue to fail to address the well-being of our children in a comprehensive and effective way, New Mexico will maintain its place at the bottom of the heap,” said Dr. García. “We know what policies will move the needle. We know, for example, that high-quality early childhood care and learning services provide a strong, positive basis for children’s long-term health, and academic and employment success. We know that the return on this kind of investment far out-performs any other later investments we might make,” she added.

After New Mexico’s low ranking of  50th last year, NM Voices released NM KIDS are COUNTing on Us: A Policy Agenda for a Better New Mexico, which included policy recommendations for addressing all 16 of the indicators of child well-being in a comprehensive way. The child advocacy group released an updated policy agenda last month that includes several new recommendations. It also notes whether recommended policies were addressed during the last legislative session.

The 2014 KIDS COUNT Data Book is available here:

The US and NM profiles are here:

The updated NM KIDS are COUNTing on Us policy agenda is available here: