by Roz Brown, Public News Service–NM
October 24, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. – A new report out today says the vast majority of children in New Mexico lag behind other kids across the nation when it comes to achieving their future potential.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s second Race for Results report in three years measured key milestones in child development across racial and ethnic groups. The foundation tracks progress on education, health and economic success at national and state levels.

As executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, James Jimenez said 75 percent of New Mexico’s children are children of color, and he listed two things the state could do immediately to improve opportunities to help all kids reach their potential.

“Expanding our home visiting programs so young parents know how to raise healthy children who can thrive,” Jimenez said. “The second would be making sure that we have pre-Kindergarten programs available to families, so that when children hit the schoolhouse doors, they are really ready to learn.”

New Mexico’s index scores for all groups were lower than the national average with one exception: results for African American children – who scored the lowest at the national level – were higher in New Mexico than scores for Hispanic and Latino children.

The report concludes that no state in the nation is meeting all developmental milestones, but Asian and white children tend to fare better as a whole than children of color.

Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, pointed out that kids are the future parents, workers and leaders, but said the nation is falling short in providing equal access to opportunity that will allow all kids to fully participate in society so the country benefits.

“As they get older, these kids are going to drive local and state economies,” Speer stated. “They’re going to contribute to their communities, and they’re really going be the driving force in ensuring that we’re all better off in the long run.”

New Mexico’s lowest score was for Native American children; but on the positive side, that group of children is more likely to be enrolled in a preschool program than kids in the rest of the nation.

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