Children are especially susceptible to extreme heat, air and water pollution, and other aspects of climate change. That’s the primary finding in a report released today by New Mexico Voices for Children. The report also looks at public policies the state can adopt to help protect the climate from more devastation and to better prepare New Mexicans from extreme weather and climate events, particularly those living in high-risk areas.
“The data show that the state must keep pushing itself to create opportunities for all New Mexico kids to thrive, but we’ve also seen progress in most indicators, and many recent family-focused state policy changes give us strong reasons to expect that we’ll continue to see improvements in the future,” said Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which runs the state’s KIDS COUNT program.
New Mexico is at a critical juncture between the recent and significant investments made in early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs and the political will to make those programs universal and permanent. That is one of the conclusions in a new report, Early Childhood Care and Education in New Mexico: Using New Tools and Rising to the Challenge.
“Our report is not warning of doom and gloom, but rather urging policymakers to strike while the iron is hot and to prepare for the downturn now while excess state revenue and federal opportunity allows for decisive and impactful action toward revenue diversification.”
“This state-level Child Tax Credit (CTC) will be a big help to New Mexico’s working families and increasing the amount for families who are paid low incomes will truly target the credit to where it’s most needed. We also need to make the credit permanent."
Indicators in which New Mexico saw some improvement in recent years included young children not enrolled in preschool, high school students not graduating on time, babies born at a low birthweight, and teen birth rates. Big challenges remain for New Mexico children, including poverty and food insecurity.
New Census Data Show Improvement in Child Poverty for New Mexico During Pandemic Thanks to Public Relief and Tax Policies
“Tax credits for families earning low incomes are one of the most effective ways to reduce child poverty and improve outcomes for children and their families,” Wallin said. “And because they are spent on basic necessities like housing and food, they create economic activity that’s good for the whole state.”
New Mexico is ranked last in child well-being by the national 2022 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that analyzes how children and families are faring. New Mexico has seen consistent improvements over time in most indicators, however, those improvements are outweighed by the hardship felt by families in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“Temporary expansions in the federal CTC helped many New Mexico parents meet their family’s basic needs and were used to pay for basic necessities such as food and housing and paying off debt. With the fate of those federal expansions uncertain, it is great to see the state taking the lead on ensuring all families in the state can meet their needs and thrive.”
Immigrant-based and Advocacy Organizations Launch Statewide Guaranteed Basic Income Study in New Mexico
Guaranteed Basic Income programs that have been tried elsewhere have shown how well this approach works. These programs create stability for families, which allows them to plan for the future and pursue better employment opportunities. We look forward to having the data from this project so we can learn how this valuable tool can help move New Mexico families and communities toward a brighter future.