Despite improvements in most indicators, New Mexico ranks 50th in the US for child well-being, according to the 2022 Kids Count Data Book, a 50-state report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation released on Aug. 8. The data book examines 16 indicators, including child poverty; high school graduation rates; and teen birth rates, grouped in the larger brackets of economic well-being; education; health; and family and community.
This year, the book also includes data on the increases in children who experienced anxiety or depression during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most recent rankings use data from 2016 to 2020, which show the COVID-19 pandemic offset many of the state’s improvements, and also does not incorporate recent policy changes (the state ranked 49th last year, and 50th for three years prior).
“In recent years, New Mexico has been a leader in putting children first in public policy,” Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, which runs the state’s KIDS COUNT program, said in a statement. “However, the COVID pandemic caused major challenges for families that blunted the progress New Mexico had been making to improve child well-being. Fortunately, we expect that the many good-policy decisions enacted since 2019—including tax credits for workers with children and expansions in high-quality affordable child care—will put us back on the path to improvement and create opportunities for all New Mexico children to thrive.”
Voices for Children held its Annual Kids Count Conference, which reviewed the new data and policy issues, on Aug. 18.
Reprinted with permission from the Santa Fe Reporter’s Morning Word. Sign up for the free newsletter in your inbox every weekday at www.sferporter.com/signup.