“It’s a reflection of the fact that despite what people say, that kids are our most precious asset, it’s not true in the way we invest our money in state and local government,” Jimenez said.
The good news is New Mexico is starting to see improvements in a number of areas as well as “big investments in programs that matter most to kids,” such as in education, early childhood education and child care programs, said Amber Wallin, deputy director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the last-place ranking is disappointing, but the overall improvement in 10 of the 16 indicators is encouraging. "So that's a positive thing - not as much as we'd like, and maybe some other states are improving more than we are, but at the same time, at least 10 of those indicators moved in the right direction," Jimenez said.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham outlined her legislative priorities last week. Among those top concerns are creating early childhood trust funds, increasing penalties for the use of firearms in non-capital felonies and legalizing recreational marijuana.
“Kids Count is right to point out the enormous challenges facing our state’s early childhood services system,” Groginsky said. “We know that high-quality health and educational programs for children deliver an astonishing return on investment,” she added, “including significant gains in nearly every area we care about: education, health, employment, and social and emotional behavior.”
“We’re clearly not adequately providing (opportunities) for children of color, who make up the largest segment of our child population,” New Mexico Voices for Children executive director James Jimenez said. “When we’re OK with the fact that so many of our children lack the opportunities they need to be successful, we really paint a dire picture for the future.”
“We need to make these investments long term, and shouldn’t expect because there was one good budget year that all of a sudden everyone has the resources that they need. That’s clearly not the case,” he said.
“The greatest truth must be the recognition that in every child is the potential for greatness,” said Amber Wallin, deputy [director] of NM Voices for Children. “We’re all in this together.” We heartily agree: New Mexico is a great state to live in, and it can only be better with less poverty, a better-educated populace, less hunger and less crime.
On this week's edition of Eye on New Mexico, Colton Shone posed a question – do our kids count? New Mexico, once again, has been ranked 50th for child well-being. The annual Kids Count report placed New Mexico dead last in education and in "the family and community" domain. Shone interviewed James Jimenez, the executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, about the rankings.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is promising to end child hunger in New Mexico within a year. “Maybe that's too high of a goal, I don't care,” Lujan Grisham said at the Kids Count Conference. “New Mexico needs to institute universal food security services and programs in this state and every single philanthropic partner has to be dedicated to making sure no child in this state will ever go hungry again ..."