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Kids Count Report Says Things Are Getting Better In NM But Many Problems Remain

Kids monument at Roundhouse
Kevin Meerschaert
Kids monument at Roundhouse

Overall, things are improving for children in New Mexico but there are still many problems that need to be addressed.
Those are part of the findings that were noted in the annual Kids Count Data Book released Monday by New Mexico Voices for Children.

 The report tracks several indicators including economic security, education, health, and family and community.    
The indicators include issues such as child poverty and food insecurity rates, parental employment and education levels, and teen birth rates.

The report is released at the beginning of the legislative session each year to give lawmakers an idea of some of the needs of children and families.

Research and policy analyst for New Mexico Voices for Children Emily Wildau says the poverty gaps between white and minority children are again increasing now that the Child Tax Credit, expanded during the pandemic, has expired.

“Children of color often face high rates of poverty, less access to health insurance and other barriers to opportunity,” she said. “With over three-quarters of kids in New Mexico being children of color it’s critical that our policy understand that rates of child poverty, poor education outcomes, lack of health insurance and many other issues that impact families of color at a higher rate, happen because of inequities within the system and historical and current structural racism.”

Among the positive trends includes child poverty dropping to 24% in 2021 and 2022 from 29% in 2012.

There has also been a decrease in the last decade in the rate of teens who are not in school and not working and the rate of students not graduating on time improving, dropping to 23% in 2019-2020 from 33% in 2009-2010.

Some of the negative trends include absenteeism remaining high, with 39% of all students chronically absent in 2022-23.

New Mexico has a higher rate of children with asthma problems than the national average and child and teen death rates, which have been climbing since 2017, shot up to 43 per 100,000 children and teens in 2021 from 34 per 100,000 in 2011.

The top cause of death is now guns, overtaking vehicle accidents.  





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