“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.”
"...We can show our determination and resiliency through reimagining our state's policies to repair the fault lines that have widened along racial lines, by gender and by income levels since the pandemic struck," the summary said.
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.
New Mexico’s overall food insecurity rate increased from 15 percent in 2018 to an estimated 21 percent in 2020, NMVC said, based on the national nonprofit Feeding America’s “Impact of the Coronavirus on Local Food Insecurity” report.
James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, an Albuquerque-based nonprofit that works with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said the New Mexico Legislature’s recent approval of relief measures for small businesses and residents will help mitigate those issues. However, he said, Congress also needs to enact legislation providing more help to families.
“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.
Nevertheless, New Mexico continues to improve in many of the indictors that measure child well-being, and Wallin credits the commitment of policy makers and “investments in programs to benefit kids and families.”
“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.
"That investment is the only way to begin to equalize-- making sure that every child, in every family, in every place in the state of New Mexico has an equal opportunity to succeed, and the truth is we should not stop fighting," the governor said.