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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Mexico Ranks 49th in the Nation in Overall Child Well-being

Child health improved, but not economic, education, and family well-being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2012 KIDS COUNT® Data Book shows that New Mexico made a few gains in children’s health status, but the state has a long way to go in improving the economic, education, and community-related well-being of its children. The state ranks 49th out of the 50 states. Only Mississippi ranks lower.

This most recent data show that the recession and slow economic recovery are continuing to hurt struggling families in New Mexico. Since 2005, 30,000 more children live in poverty, a number greater than the populations of Deming, Taos, and Truth or Consequences combined. In 2010, more than one-third of the state’s children had parents without secure employment, an increase of 23 percent from just two years before.

“This year’s national KIDS COUNT findings continue to be disappointing. As a state we are not making the kind of growth in reading and math proficiency that we want for our children,” said Dr. Veronica C. Garcia, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children.

This years’ data book looked at 16 indicators of child well-being, broken down into four categories. In those categories, New Mexico ranked 49th in Education, Health, and Family and Community, and 48th in Economic Well-being. “This indicates that it’s important to not look at a student’s academic achievement in isolation, but rather we must work together as New Mexicans to comprehensively address the issues that affect educational outcomes and the economic well-being of our state,” Dr. Garcia added.

New Mexico ranked 46th overall in the 2011 data book, but that score was based on 10 indicators of child well-being.

“Based on the research, we know that access to high-quality care and education services for children from birth to age five promotes academic achievement,” said Dr. Garcia. “However, in our state, 62 percent of our three- and four-year-olds do not have the opportunity to attend preschool. We also know that children’s health is foundational to improved educational outcomes; therefore increased access to affordable, high-quality health care is important. There is supported evidence that when children grow up in a nurturing and caring environment they have better social-emotional, language, and learning outcomes. These outcomes are critical for our children and for the long-term economic development of the state.”

This year’s addition of six new indicators provides users of the data book with a picture of child well-being that better reflects what extensive research has shown is important in child development. “This gives us a more robust and comprehensive tool for assessing how children are doing across states,” said Christine Hollis, NM KIDS COUNT Director.

The data book and other resources are available online at: http://datacenter.kidscount.org/DataBook/2012/.

The KIDS COUNT Data Book provides the latest data on child well-being comparable across all states. This information will be available July 25 in the KIDS COUNT Data Center, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/, which also contains the most recent New Mexico data on hundreds of other indicators of child well-being. The Data Center allows users, even through mobile device access, to create rankings, maps, and trend graphs for use in publications and on websites.

July 25, 2012 at 05:38 PM in Children and Families, Education | Permalink

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