Las Cruces Sun-News
Jan. 16, 2018

SANTA FE – Quality of life is low for children in New Mexico, according to a new report.

The 2017 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book found more children are living in poverty, are without health insurance and are living in single-parent households than a year ago.

The report from the New Mexico Voices for Children ranked New Mexico as the second-worst state in child well-being, saying 29 percent of New Mexico children live in poverty.

The national average is 20 percent, with poverty defined as a family of four living on an annual household income of less than $24,300 for 2016.

The group unveiled the report’s findings on Tuesday before the Legislature convened for its 30-day session.

More: State of the State: Gov. Susana Martinez urges cooperation on crime, economy

The report did show that there was slight improvement in the number of children in early childhood education and graduation rates. The teen births and the number of teens and adolescents abusing drugs and alcohol have decreased as well.

“It’s a real mixed bag,” James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said of the report. “The encouraging thing is that some of the indicators are moving in the right direction, but clearly poverty continues to be a major concern . it can compromise a child’s long-term ability to thrive.”

The report recommends increased funding for early childhood educational programs, which both Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislative Finance Committee have proposed in their budgets. But the report also suggests that some of the money come from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund.
The report also calls for the state to invest more in pre-K and K-3 summer learning programs, which both the governor and the Legislative Finance Committee budgets proposed.

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