WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the release of Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) expressed serious concern about the findings and called for bold action to create economic opportunities and address the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents in New Mexico. The report ranked the state 49th in the nation for overall child well-being for the fourth year in a row and ranked the state last in education.
The report did show some signs of progress, including in the area of health care. New Mexico’s status rose seven positions to 37th place this year for health and the percentage of children without health insurance decreased and is now lower than the national average—an improvement due in part to the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
“While we’ve made gains in nearly every category, New Mexico still lags behind the rest of the country in child poverty and education. It is unacceptable that almost a third of children in New Mexico live in poverty,” said Senator Heinrich. “It’s clear that bold action is needed to invest in earlychildhood education and take a two-generation approach to increase opportunities for families in the state. We also need to protect the gains we’ve made in health care and continue to fight for pragmatic solutions that ensure both parents and children across the state can find a path toward upward mobility.”
Earlier this year, Senator Heinrich introduced the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act to dramatically improve the federal government's approach to ending the multigenerational cycle of poverty in New Mexico and across the country. The legislation will give states, local governments, and tribes more flexibility to create partnerships that invest in families living in poverty. The bipartisan bill is the product of a multi-year collaborative effort to balance the interests and input of a broad array of stakeholders, including Ascend at the Aspen Institute, United Way of Santa Fe County, and New Mexico Voices for Children. Senator Heinrich has hosted a series of events across New Mexico to discuss a two-generation approach to creating economic opportunities and addressing the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents.
The KIDS COUNT Report ranked all 50 states on 16 indicators that fall into four domain categories: economic well-being, education, health, family and community. The indicators range from the percentage of children in poverty to fourth grade reading proficiency, to the percentage of children without health insurance and teen birth rates.
Annie E. Casey Foundation partner New Mexico Voices for Children released the New Mexico KIDS COUNT state profile and additional statistics based off the 2017 report. New Mexico Voices for Children is an organization that advocates for public policies that help reduce child poverty and improve the health and well-being of New Mexico's children, families, and communities.