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New KIDS COUNT Data: Recession Hits New Mexico Kids

August 17, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - New Mexico again ranks near the bottom of the 50 states for child well-being, according to the 2011 KIDS COUNT report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report ranks states on 10 different indicators of children's health and economic security. Christine Hollis, New Mexico KIDS COUNT program director for New Mexico Voices for Children, says the key to lifting the state out of its ranking of 46th in the nation is targeting the state's assets to those areas where they will do the most good.

"Promoting greater investment in early childhood care and education, linking learning from birth through third grade, is seen as the most cost-effective way of improving our children's success in life."

Where New Mexico's children were hit especially hard, Hollis says, is that the growing unemployment rate for parents has wiped out all the economic gains of the 1990s.

"Since the recession, the rate of New Mexico children who live with at least one unemployed parent has more than doubled. We've also seen a significant jump in the number of children who live in single-parent families."

Child poverty is a bellwether for the well-being of society as a whole, Hollis says, and a growing number of New Mexico families are in that situation.

The 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book is online at datacenter.kidscount.org.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - NM