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.
“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.”
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.
“Child well-being was steadily improving prior to the onset of the pandemic, and much of that was due to changes in public policies that made kids and working families a priority,” said Amber Wallin, executive director of NM Voices for Children. “If lawmakers continue putting kids and families first, we expect to see even more improvements. However, in order to ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic and recession, these policies must consider the unique barriers faced by our children, families, and communities of color.”
The Board for Directors of New Mexico Voices for Children has hired Amber Wallin, MPA, as executive director of the child advocacy organization, effective Jan. 1, 2022. The group’s former executive director, James Jimenez, MPA, retired at the end of 2021.
For too long, the antiqued federal oil and gas leasing program has allowed oil and gas companies to litter our public lands with orphaned wells while working New Mexicans are forced to foot the bill to clean them up. The reforms that DOI has put forth in its new report will protect taxpayers and protect our public lands.
“We need strong rules that put an end to methane pollution from the oil and gas industry in order to protect today’s children – as they are disproportionately harmed by the air pollution it causes. We also need them to safeguard children of the future – as they will suffer the increasingly dire consequences of the climate crisis we continue to exacerbate."
While the state is currently flush with revenue from the booming oil and gas markets, as well as federal recovery funding, one advocacy group is recommending that lawmakers not lose sight of the need to diversify the state’s revenue sources in order to protect future budgets.