WASHINGTON, D.C. — As New Mexico Voices for Children released its annual New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book detailing the most recent data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation on child well-being in the state, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) expressed serious concern with the findings and called on state leaders to make investing in New Mexico’s children a top priority.
Although there were improvements over the last year, New Mexico remains near the bottom in the nation in numerous indicators of child poverty and well-being.
“It’s clear we need to take urgent action and invest in a stronger future for our kids,” Heinrich said. “I’m confident that Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and the new Legislature will finally help us turn the corner as a state by making investing in our children a top priority. Now is not the time for more studies, austerity, or caution. We have the leadership, the resources, and the revenues to do what we should have been doing for the last century. We need to use those resources to invest in our children’s future.”
New Mexico’s progress in most indicators measured by Annie E. Casey Foundation—including rates of teen pregnancy and high school graduation rates—lagged behind the rest of the nation. The rate of children living in families in which no parent has full-time, year-round employment increased. The only indicator in which New Mexico did not lag behind the rest of nation was the health insurance rate, largely due to the state’s expansion of the Medicaid system under the Affordable Care Act.
Heinrich has long called for the state to invest in early childhood education by using a sustainable portion of its Land Grant Permanent School Fund. At the federal level, Heinrich has joined U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to introduce the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Act, which takes a new approach to fighting multigenerational poverty by focusing on building a strong foundation in early learning for children and workforce development and college attainment for parents to help families grow together and get on a more prosperous path.