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.”
New Mexico traditionally has not done well in the Kids Count rankings, usually swapping the 49th and 50th spots with Mississippi. But Jimenez said there are some reasons for optimism as New Mexico looks to the future, including the expansion of Medicaid several years ago and a just-passed working families tax credit that could reduce child poverty.
“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."
“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.