New Mexico stalled at 49th in annual ranking of child well-being

New Mexico once again ranks near the bottom of the list for the well-being of children

by Erica Zucco, KOB TV Eyewitness News 4 
July 21, 2015

It’s about the struggles our state’s children face right out of the gate. New Mexico ranks 49th for the well-being of children in a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which works for the welfare of children.

View: 2015 Kids Count Report

“Aren’t we tired of hearing these low numbers? Yes, we are. But we can’t get hopeless about it,” said Veronica Garcia with child advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children.

Garcia has seen the reports year after year. This year’s Kids Count report ranks New Mexico only ahead of Mississippi for child well-being. Since last year, graduation rates improved and there are fewer teens doing drugs and drinking alcohol. But other factors, not so much.

“Very discouraging to see child poverty continue to increase, we know those are just devastating effects on our children,” Garcia said.

So how can we help our children? Garcia says we can give them an advantage by sending them to school as early as possible.

“The research clearly shows that what we can really do to invest in those early years. That children with a good start in life, from quality home visitation, quality child care and pre-K, that these children are more likely to be reading by third grade, to graduate from high school on time and to be able to be contributing members of society,” she said.

Garcia says while another year of bad news may seem like white noise, we can’t turn a blind eye.

“I think we as adults must speak up for children because they can’t and for vulnerable families that can’t advocate for themselves,” she said.

The study examined economic well-being, education, health and family and community. Looking at other states in the region: Arizona ranked 46th, Utah was 9th, Colorado was 21st and Texas was 41st.

New Mexico Voices for Children put together a roadmap for policymakers about ways we could help correct some of the problems in our state. You can see their ideas at www.nmvoices.org.

Copyright 2015, KOB TV