WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following the release of Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) raised deep concerns about child poverty in New Mexico. The report ranked the state 49th in the nation for overall child well-being for the third year in a row. Children living in high poverty areas rose from 24 percent in 2015 to 26 percent in 2016. The study showed some signs of progress for child well-being in New Mexico--particularly in health where its status rose four positions to 44th place this year, an improvement due in part to the expansion of the Medicaid system under the Affordable Care Act.
Senator Heinrich has been working with stakeholders, community service partners, advocacy groups, and child care providers to draft legislation, 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. Senator Heinrich has also urged the state to invest a portion of its Land Grant Permanent Fund in the most effective early childhood programs.
"It's unacceptable that a third of New Mexico children are living in poverty. When many families in our state are struggling financially, and children are coming to school hungry, we are not doing enough," said Sen. Heinrich. "New Mexico needs to take bigger steps like providing more resources for early childhood education by using a sustainable portion of our land grant permanent fund. At the federal level, a two-generational approach -- based on a bipartisan bill I am introducing -- is needed to ensure both parents and children across the state can find a path toward upward mobility. When we invest in children and their parents concurrently, we harness the family's full potential and put the whole family on a path to permanent economic security and independence. My legislation will facilitate targeted interventions to improve two-generation outcomes in education, health care, job training, childcare, and a range of other vital government services, which will allow us to simultaneously help families overcome poverty, rebuild our communities, and save taxpayer dollars."
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 2016 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.