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NM Notes Marked Improvements in Child Well-Being Report


Tuesday, June 22, 2021   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A New Mexico child-advocate group is expressing cautious optimism about incremental improvements in the latest Kids Count report.

Amber Wallin, deputy director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said the 2021 Annie E. Casey report confirmed a 45% improvement in kids with health insurance over the previous year. She added the number of children living in poverty dropped by two percentage points.

"That's 9,000 fewer kids in our state living in high-poverty areas," Wallin observed. "So that's 9,000 kids and families in our state who've seen an improvement since last year when this data was reported."

Overall, New Mexico ranked 49th for child well-being in 2019, taking it out of last place from the previous year.

Wallin pointed out the higher ranking correlates with improvements the state was seeing for kids prior to the start of the pandemic. This year's ranking is based on the most recent comprehensive data and does not reflect hardships many families faced during the pandemic.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said despite improvements for many states, the Data Book reveals persistent racial and ethnic disparities, especially related to the pandemic.

"If you look at families who were anxious about either being evicted or losing their homes, the overall number was about 20%, so one in five," Boissiere reported. "If you look at the number of Black and Latino families, it was more like one in three."

Wallin noted New Mexico's data also showed significant progress in reducing teen births, as well as high school students graduating on time, a good sign for the state's future.

"Our teens are going to have more opportunity as they graduate from high school, as they move into college and later into the workforce," Wallin predicted. "They'll have greater opportunities."

The Kids Count index captures what children need most to thrive, using four domains including: economic well-being, education, health and family, and community.

Disclosure: New Mexico Voices for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Human Rights/Racial Justice, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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