At our recent Kids Count Conference, I asked the room of nearly 400 attendees to raise their hands if they had ever spent money on activities such as music lessons, team sports, preschool or a tutor for a child or grandchild. Then I asked if any of them would characterize that spending as “throwing money at the problem.”
Because poverty has multiple causes and tends to be generational, we must address it by meeting the needs of the family as a whole. This is called a two-generation approach, and it does more than ensure that children are fed and safe. It also gives parents the tools they need to better their own situations—whether that means access to job training and further education or health care to deal with substance abuse problems or chronic illness.
Students at UNM will see another increase of about $280 in their tuition and fees next year. That may not seem like a huge amount to some, but it’s enormous when you look at it this way.
Our state's Permanent Fund has grown to $15 billion while child well-being has plummeted to 49th in the nation. But a lawmakers thinks that’s not dire?
Imagine we were building our public education system from scratch. Summer vacations and early childhood education are among the aspects that we’d likely change.
Given the news out of the Legislature, you’d think we’ve been rapidly expanding the early childhood services that will improve school outcomes. Actually, fewer children are receiving these services today than did five years ago.
Dr. Arthur Rolnick—the keynote speaker at our 2014 NM KIDS COUNT Conference—made a compelling case for higher levels of investment in early childhood care and learning services. Many people in New Mexico agree that these kind of investments will help us improve the well-being of our children. Unfortunately, there has not been a consensus in Santa Fe on how to pay for these programs.
A recent report from the State Investment Council shows that New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) is growing at a robust pace and now exceeds $13.8 billion. It’s the second largest fund of its kind in the nation and we spend a small portion of it every year on education and other important services. Meanwhile, New Mexico remains the worst state in which to raise a child. Only a small fraction of our youngest children have access to the high-quality early childhood care and learning services that are shown to improve their outcomes all the way into adulthood.
The 2014 national KIDS COUNT ranking of states in child well-being just came out. There was a lot of uproar last year when, for the first time ever, New Mexico was ranked dead last—a position that had always been reserved for Mississippi. This year, Mississippi is back in 50th and we are ranked 49th. That’s good news, surely, but we have to ask ourselves … is it just a statistical fluke? Or, could our state possibly be starting to make progress in improving children’s lives? And, if this is so, can we sustain this movement?
There are many other reasons legislators should obsess over the high cost of child care: because of our high poverty rates, more of our kids need it and fewer working parents can afford it; because preschoolers don’t get Pell Grants, can’t take out a student loan, and don’t qualify for work-study so their parents are stuck with the cost upfront; and because, arguably, high-quality child care is more important to a person’s development than college.