by Erica Zucco, KOB TV
Jan. 16, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. — Coinciding with the start of the 2018 New Mexico state legislative session Tuesday morning, child advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children released its latest New Mexico Kids Count report using data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“There’s some movement in the right direction. But when we compare ourselves to other states, we’re not doing as well as we think we ought to be doing,” said NM Voices for Children Executive Director James Jimenez.

The report shows improvements in more students graduating on time, more reading and math proficiency, and more young kids in school. It shows negative trends concerning kids living in poverty, child and teen death rates, and families with multiple parents caring for kids.

Education and healthcare are two areas in which NM Voices for Children hopes this session could make a difference.

“Early childhood education itself is a huge area and an area we believe is really foundational to attaining long-term prospects for New Mexico’s children,” Jimenez said.

The group wants a $25 million boost for the Children, Youth and Families Department to maintain early education for thousands of families, covering rising costs to keep up with quality and safety standards. They also want to ensure health care costs for kids are covered.

“Make sure they fully fund Medicaid, and the good news on that front is that the governor and the legislature’s budget proposals seem to fully do that,” Jimenez said.

The group will hold a 10 a.m. event in the Capitol rotunda, during which kids and teens will give speeches on their concerns and how their families can be impacted by lawmakers’ decisions.

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