Report: Improvement in child welfare needed in New Mexico, nationally

by Colton Shone, KOB TV
June 1, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new report is showing that the U.S. has work to do when it comes to child welfare when compared to its neighbors around the world.

New Mexico ranks even closer to the bottom in a ranking of the 50 states.

The report by Save the Children – an organization dedicated to advocating for children around the world – shows that the U.S. ranks 36th out of 172 countries around the world when it comes to child welfare. Norway ranks the best, while Niger sits at the bottom of the list.

The report takes into account factors that end childhood early, including rates of infant mortality, child hunger, high school dropout rates and teen births.

“We haven’t invested in children and families the way that we need to,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.

In the U.S., New Mexico ranks 48th. Despite the low ranking, Jimenez says the state has made progress in infant mortality rates.

“We have a real gem of a program that has to do with neo-natal transport,” he said. “That program allows us to transport high-risk babies from all over the state to the level one trauma center at the University of New Mexico. It’s been a remarkable success.”

Jimenez said the state made national headlines when lawmakers passed the lunch shaming bill which makes sure kids have food to eat at school, even if they cannot pay for it right then and there.

MORE: Efforts to stop school-lunch shaming moves to Congress

But Jimenez said more needs to be done in other areas, including poverty, which he said New Mexico leads the country in when it comes to children.

“One of the ways we can address that to make sure our children are ready for school is by investing in programs that we know work that prepare children for kindergarten, first, second and third grade,” he said, “and that move up through the school systems.”

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