As part of opening day at the 2019 New Mexico Legislature, the state's Voices for Children group will highlight its annual New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book. Deputy Director Amber Wallin said there have been improvements in teen birth rates, increased rates of kids covered by insurance, higher preschool enrollment and reduced child poverty. But the state's dead-last ranking for child well-being reported last summer means lawmakers have more work to do.
A new report on child welfare offers a deeper look at some grim statistics for New Mexico, which fell to last in the nation last year on a key state-by-state assessment of the well-being of children and families. “This is the time to go bold or go home,” says the 2018 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, scheduled for release Tuesday.
The past decade of austerity has been hard on New Mexico’s children. Still, we are optimistic about the future because we believe in the strength and resiliency of New Mexico’s families. We know we can build stronger communities and support more resilient families and children so that they can thrive. But we can only build a stronger New Mexico if our policymakers are willing to provide the revenue we need to make these investments.
There’s good news and bad news. First the good news: the rate of child poverty in New Mexico has decreased. The bad news: our state still ranks 48th in the nation for child poverty. That’s one of the conclusions found within the data in the 2018 New Mexico Kids Count Data Book, released today at a press conference. The annual report, produced by New Mexico Voices for Children, includes the most recent data on the status of child well-being at the state, county, tribal, and school district levels.
After ten years of austerity, New Mexico has fallen to last in the nation in child well-being. The state also lost a lawsuit claiming that it is not meeting its constitutional obligation when it comes to public education. It's time to change course. This annual publication reports the latest data on child well-being in New Mexico to help us choose the path forward. (An annual KIDS COUNT report; state-, county-, tribal-, and school district-level data on indicators of child well-being; data by race and ethnicity where available)
"And we know that children in New Mexico suffer from a high degree of food insecurity, which means that they don't always know where the next meal is coming from,” he said. “And making food more expensive for children and families just does not make sense to us." Nearly all U.S. states have eliminated, reduced or offset taxes as applied to food for home consumption.
However, the Albuquerque-based child advocacy organization New Mexico Voices for Children does not believe low incomes and poverty are the reason for New Mexico’s low broadband subscription rate. “That’s an excuse, not a reason,” said James Jimenez, the group’s executive director. “One thing we have seen around the state, even in low-income communities, a lot of people still have a phone (despite the cost). Companies find a way of providing service people can afford.”
And the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children is distributing poll results that show overwhelming public opposition to reinstating a tax on groceries. “New Mexicans believe their leaders should be fighting hunger, not making it worse,” said James Jimenez, executive director of the agency.
“People understand that a tax on food hurts working families and their children,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which commissioned the poll. “New Mexicans believe their leaders should be fighting hunger, not making it worse.”
Child Advocates Disappointed Over Congressional Inability to Reauthorize Land and Water Conservation Fund
We want to thank those members of our congressional delegation who fought hard for this reauthorization – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham. We laud them for their hard work to keep these New Mexico gems open for families, backpackers, and other outdoors enthusiasts, and pristine for future generations.