“It’s encouraging to see that child well-being was improving before the pandemic hit,” said James Jimenez, executive director for New Mexico Voices for Children. “We’re cautiously optimistic that investments the state made in children and families beginning in 2019 – as well as throughout the pandemic – helped offset some of the health and financial problems caused by the pandemic."
“If children are not ready to learn by the time they reach kindergarten, they’re already compromised. When they start from behind, too often they will end up behind,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
“I can’t think of anything in my career that will have the impact on children that this bill will have. And, and I think it’s going to be incumbent upon all of us to follow through and follow the lives of these kids, and hold up the success stories that this creates,” said Democrat Sen. Martin Heinrich on Thursday in a presentation alongside education advocates highlighting the Act.
“The lottery-based scholarships that are being provided are not addressing where the real need is,” James Jimenez, the executive director of NM Voices, said. “For a child of color born in New Mexico, there's a higher chance that child will live in poverty than a white child ... I think we need to do a much better job of directing aid toward families of color, (and) more specifically, low to moderate income families.”
“There's been policies over the years that unfortunately really haven't prioritized many communities and families of color in our state," Wallin said. "And Doña Ana County and Las Cruces have higher proportions of families that are families of color. We know that it's incredibly important to support our essential workers because we know that Doña Ana County has a higher proportion of essential workers as compared to the rest of the state and the rest of the nation.”
“We saw so many of the indicators of child well-being were really improving; then the pandemic hit,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, during a virtual news conference Wednesday. “Next year, we’ll see the damage the pandemic did in a statistical way. I know we see it in new reports every single day of how families are struggling.”
Jimenez said it’s also important for legislators to enact policies to get money “into the hands of families who will spend it quickly and locally. We believe that all the tax credits to business in the world will not make a difference if people do not have money to spend in those businesses,” he said.
Bill Jordan of the nonprofit New Mexico Voices for Children pointed to annual child wellbeing rankings in which New Mexico regularly finishes last or near last in the nation. “One of the things we know from the data is our kids are behind before they ever get to school,” he said. “We urge you to invest in our own kids over Wall Street.”
“Moving forward, we think New Mexico needs to continue investing in the programs that create opportunities for our families,” she said, adding that meeting basic needs such as food assistance, health care, child care and housing will be crucial.
“The skeptics and the challengers are loud. But we have the facts and the families on our side,” Lujan Grisham said, calling for a renewed commitment to investing in “a system that continues its focus on children and families” during the 2021 legislative session.