The federal expanded credit “provided really targeted relief to those families that needed it most,” says Amber Wallin, executive director of the advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children. She adds that beyond simple relief, the income support “create[d] long-term opportunities [for children] to thrive,” as research consistently shows cash-assistance programs for families support children’s health, educational outcomes, and general well-being.
“New Mexico is ranked near the bottom for childhood poverty and childhood well-being. That benefit was really a lifeline for families. It’s really important what that money means for families. They’re better able to feed children so they go to school with a full belly. Parents are able to drop a third job, they’re better able to afford housing. They are big-picture impacts, what that money can do for a family,” she said.
“What this data reflects is mostly pre-pandemic conditions,” Wallin told NM Political Report. “It’s reflective of the times before all the big policy changes in New Mexico. This data doesn’t capture all the changes we’ve seen in recent years.”
“[The data] doesn’t necessarily reflect many of the policy changes we’ve seen at a state level,” New Mexico Voices for Children Executive Director Amber Wallin said in an interview Monday. “When the data catches up to the policy, we expect to see continued improvement for New Mexico’s children and families.”
What’s not reflected in the data book is “great policy progress in the past few years that put kids first,” she said, noting a number of legislative changes made from 2019 forward. “Among them are the new child tax credit, the doubling of the tax credit for working families with kids and the expansion of child care systems to most every kid in New Mexico,” she said.
New Mexico is ranked last in child well-being by the national 2022 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that analyzes how children and families are faring. New Mexico has seen consistent improvements over time in most indicators, however, those improvements are outweighed by the hardship felt by families in 2020 due to the pandemic.
State Data Sheet The national 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, assesses and ranks the 50 states on 16 indicators of child well-being, which are categorized into four domains - economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. New Mexico placed 50th in 2022. (State-level data on indicators of child well-being)
Report Given that so many youth within the state’s juvenile system have faced multiple adverse childhood experiences, any effective rehabilitation efforts must address their long-term impacts. This report looks at how informal diversion programs based on the arts can help youth dealing with ACEs and save the state money. (State-level data on the juvenile system.)
Advocates note that many people exposed to trauma recover, particularly if they have attentive families and strong support systems. “Children are really resilient,” said Amber Wallin, executive director of the advocacy organization New Mexico Voices for Children, particularly if they are only exposed to one or two ACEs. But if trauma accumulates beyond that, she said, the challenges become more difficult to overcome — “and that’s where New Mexico fares really poorly.”
“Literacy and poverty are closely tied together, and they can reinforce each other through generations,” said Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “If a child is living in poverty and facing difficult financial challenges, then one of the things that could come along with that is that their parents may have less time to work with them at home on reading and homework, particularly if the parents are working two jobs.”