“A big drop in poverty for our youngest children is very good news, as poverty is most harmful to children when they are young. This is the time when critical brain development is happening and not only do kids living in poverty have fewer resources for enrichment, the stress caused by financial hardship can do real damage,” said James Jimenez, executive director for New Mexico Voices for Children, a child advocacy group.
“We are appalled that the Trump Administration has taken another step away from simple human decency by trying to subvert the Flores Settlement Agreement. The number one priority of the Flores agreement is that children not be incarcerated. This foundational principle recognizes that the best way to ensure a child’s well-being is to keep them out of jail. These standards of protection have been in place for decades and there is no reason they should be discarded."
“Food, utilities, rent, and basics like diapers, have all gotten more expensive in the last nine years, but our minimum wage has stagnated. That $7.50 does not buy what it bought in 2009,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices. “Given our rate of child poverty, which is the highest in the nation, it’s unconscionable that we haven’t raised the minimum wage to help New Mexico’s hard-working families and our economy.”
“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.