by Joshua Lee, Weekly Alibi
January 26, 2017
The annual Kids Count Data Book was released by New Mexico Voices for Children last week. The report found improvement in the area of children’s health, but state poverty levels continue to negatively impact the children in our community. According to the data book, low birth weights, children without health insurance, teen pregnancy and teen abuse of alcohol and drugs have all declined. The executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, James Jimenez, says this can be directly attributed to the Affordable Care Act and the access to medical care it provides. But while the health of our children has shown a significant increase, New Mexico’s economic troubles have pushed 10,000 more children into high poverty areas between 2013 and 2014—where the poverty rate is more than 30 percent, compared to the national average of 14. Overall, 29 percent of the state’s children live in poverty areas. Since 2008, the state has also seen a 22 percent increase in children whose parents don’t have year-round, full-time employment. The child and teen death rate in New Mexico is also abnormally high—31 deaths per 100,000, compared to the national average of 24 per 100,000.
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