“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 ..."
“We will look poverty in the face,” Lujan Grisham said in the keynote address at the annual Kids Count Conference in Albuquerque. “… It is an evil in our state, and it must be dealt a death blow.” Lujan Grisham spoke to about 500 people gathered for the conference, organized by the nonprofit New Mexico Voices for Children.
“We all saw the report last week,” Lujan Grisham said Wednesday at a conference organized by the nonprofit advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children. She was referring to the 2019 Kids Count Data Book, an annual report by the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, which assesses how kids in each state are faring on several measures, from health care to education to poverty.
“New Mexico tried for too long to tax-cut its way to prosperity, and the dismal results should surprise no one. We know that the best way to prosperity is with investments,” Jimenez told InsideSources.
“The one area where she did do well in, and we give her credit for, is the Medicaid expansion. That had an immediate and dramatic impact on some of the health stats for our children,” Jimenez said. That action cut the child uninsurance rate in half, from 10% down to 5%, with New Mexico zooming past 12 states in that area.
Lawmakers pushed a slew of bills through during the 2019 Legislative session addressing education inequities, and the governor signed many of them. But those efforts will take a while to be felt on the ground, experts say. This is the second year in a row, and the third time overall, that New Mexico ranked 50th in the nation in an overall score based on individual rankings in four categories.
“It’s disappointing, but not terribly surprising to see New Mexico ranked at the bottom again, given the last 10 years,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which runs the state’s Kids Count program. “It is going to take sustained investment to undo the damage from a decade of underfunding all of our child-serving programs and services like health care, child care and K-12 education.”
The Kids Count report found that 18% of the nation’s children live in poverty, down from the Great Recession. But the same advances weren’t seen in the Southwest, where many children are Native Americans, Latinos and immigrants who have long faced disadvantages. “The nation’s racial inequities remain deep, systemic and stubbornly persistent,” said the annual Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.