New Mexico has fewer workers protected by paid sick leave than any other, with about 50% of workers here working without it, according to New Mexico Voices for Children.
The U.S. Census Bureau is collecting data on how families are spending their monthly payments, so we know that the majority of the spending is going toward food. Wallin said that’s a good sign for a state that’s long struggled with childhood food insecurity. “We’re just glad to see that this relief is helping the families’ most basic needs,” she said.
“This bill is about ensuring a better future for kids,” James Jimenez said. “For years, New Mexico has relied on oil and gas to fund our children’s education programming. But as we battle climate change and protect our land and public health, it’s vital that states like New Mexico are able to diversify their economies.”
A recent New Mexico Voices for Children report, Eligible but Excluded, said that federal law requires state agencies to provide “meaningful access” to people who speak languages other than English but many state agencies in New Mexico have no plans in place to improve language access. This makes breaking a system of economic hardship difficult and is inequitable, the report states.
“I think that the level of which people are being impacted by the pandemic is clearly not equal across genders, not equal across income spectrums, not equal across race or ethnicities. Because of that, we know women of color and women generally have been harmed more.”
“Money and time are both barriers to families trying to make healthy food choices,” writes Derek Lin in his report Ending Childhood Food Insecurity. The report was commissioned by New Mexico Voices for Children, an advocacy nonprofit dedicated to addressing childhood hunger and well-being.
Wallin noted that families of color were especially hard-hit by school closures and other economic impacts from the pandemic and now, should have more peace of mind. "They're able to better afford housing needs and ensure they can buy their kids back-to-school clothes," said Wallin. "But also it's helping them go back to work, afford necessities and helping our economy get back on track as well."
New Mexico ranked 49th in child well-being based on data gathered before the coronavirus pandemic. The year before, our state was 50th. New Mexico Voices for Children partners with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to release the annual Kids Count report that tracks 16 metrics of children's access to education, health and economic and social stability at home.
Incremental improvements show us both that progress is possible and also that creating the nurturing environments our kids deserve and need to thrive will require bold and sustained actions and investments.
“It’s encouraging to see that child wellbeing in New Mexico was improving before the pandemic hit,” said James Jimenez, executive director for New Mexico Voices for Children, which partners with the foundation. He’s cautiously optimistic that state policies “helped offset some of the health and financial problems caused by the pandemic.”