“Elections are foundational to our democracy, so we wanted to get candidate positions on a variety of topics,” said Brian Etheridge, MD, FAAP, president of the NM Pediatric Society. “We asked about a range of issues – from child health and well-being to education funding, the economy, the 2020 Census, public land use, and more.”
“Across the nation, children of color and children from low-resource families are much more likely to face barriers to success in school and beyond. These children are more likely than their white peers to go to schools that are underfunded and that struggle to attract the best teachers. These children are more likely to be behind even before they enter the schoolhouse doors.
New Mexico is ranked dead last in the nation for child well-being, ranking 50th in the national KIDS COUNT® Data Book, which was released June 27 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. New Mexico ranked 50th once before, in 2013. “New Mexico’s dismal ranking should serve as a wake-up call to our state that we must act—and that action must be comprehensive and sustained,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, the KIDS COUNT anchor for New Mexico.
“This report clearly shows that there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure that New Mexico’s Black children have access to all of the opportunities they need in order to grow up healthy and thrive,” said Yvette Kaufman-Bell, executive director of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs.
“Many families that are faced with the cliff effect have to make terrible choices,” said Armelle Casau, PhD, who co-authored the report. “Some turn down a pay increase, while others have to rely on a lower-cost—which usually means lower-quality—child care situation. Work supports should be designed so that they help parents succeed.”
“Less than one year ago, lawmakers were scrambling to pay for basic services like schools, roads, and public safety. New Mexico has become too reliant on the oil and gas industry to fund these services, which has created boom-or-bust cycles for our economy, and therefore, for all New Mexicans. Right now we’re in a boom time, but we mustn’t forget that the bust times may be right around the corner."
New Mexico Voices for Children has released a children’s agenda of policy recommendations they hope candidates for state- and national-level offices will adopt. The agenda, “Kids at the Crossroads: A Children’s Agenda for Making KIDS COUNT with Candidates,” contains 30 policy recommendations spanning three categories: economic well-being, education, and health. The group hopes that the agenda will spur candidates to will make concrete plans for improving child well-being.
“As with many social ills, the best solution is prevention,” said James Jimenez, Executive Director of NM Voices. “Prevention is generally more effective and less expensive than remediation, and prevents all number of public health and safety problems down the line. One of the state-supported services that can prevent ACEs is voluntary home visiting.”
SANTA FE, NM—Several indicators of child well-being are showing improvement in New Mexico, but a persistently high rate of children living in poverty continues to cast a pall over the state. That is the overall conclusion in the 2017 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book, released today by New Mexico Voices for Children to coincide with the start of the legislative session.
“We are pleased with the funding levels for Medicaid and child care assistance in the both of the recently released budget requests. These two programs are not only critical for the well-being of New Mexico’s children and hard-working families, but they are also important to the state’s economy.