Our baby steps toward expanding early childhood services are not getting us far

Bill Jordan, MA, is Senior Policy Advisor/Governmental Relations for NM Voices for Children. Thousands of adorable and inquisitive youngsters are trotting off to school for the first time this month. From all around the state these wide-eyed kiddos are beginning their school adventures. In honor of this new class, we thought we’d look back at how New Mexico prepared them for school, and look forward to how babies born this year will fare in their preschool years. In 2010, the year this new class was born, 30,733 of New Mexico’s children were enrolled in the state’s early childhood programs that help children prepare for school: home visiting, pre-kindergarten, and child care assistance.

Everything you need to know about New Mexico’s bottom of the barrel Kids Count report in one chart

Every year, the Annie E. Casey foundation, in partnership with New Mexico Voices for Children, issues its national ranking of states according to child-wellbeing. Once again, New Mexico ranks at the bottom of the pile—49th in the nation. This isn’t the first time that New Mexico ranks so low. New Mexico was also 49th in the 2014 report and has never been above 45th. In 2013, the state fell to 50th.

NM 49th in child well-being again: What will it take to make change?

Amber Wallin, MPA, is the KIDS COUNT Director for New Mexico Voices for Children. Another year… another ranking at the bottom of the barrel. New Mexico has ranked among the worst states in which to be a child for so long that it hardly seems like news anymore. In the 25-plus years that the Annie E. Casey Foundation has been publishing the KIDS COUNT Data Book, we’ve never ranked above 40th. Most years, we’ve ranked in the bottom five, but we can and we must do better by our kids

We have made progress in some areas.

With long-term unemployment, why does the state want to make parents work for food?

There’s an old saying that when you’re stuck in a hole the first thing you should do is stop digging. New Mexicans are used to hearing that their home state is in the hole. We are at the bottom of the nation in everything from child well-being to poverty to hunger. Despite this, there are some up in Santa Fe who want to continue to dig. A report put out last week by Governing shows New Mexico at the very bottom for long-term unemployment.

NM has one of largest cuts to higher education funding

According to a recent report, New Mexico has one of the largest cuts to higher education funding in the nation. The report from the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities looked at inflation-adjusted funding for higher education since the recession. The report found that the funding in New Mexico has dropped 32.2 percent since 2008, when adjusted for inflation. This works out to more than $4,300 per student. Only three states, Alaska, Wyoming and North Dakota, have seen higher education funding increase since 2008.

Tax cuts, a special session, and the budgetary storm that’s brewing | by Bill Jordan

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]BILL JORDAN is Senior Policy Advisor/Governmental Relations for NM Voices for Children. He can be reached at bjordan@nmvoices.org.[/box]

Since the legislative session concluded without the passage of a capital outlay bill—money for public works projects like building community centers—there have been rumblings about the need for a special session. Amid this din, the Executive Office has indicated that it would also want tax cuts to be considered. A special session should be called, but the Legislature should limit their agenda to passing the public works projects and not even consider handing out more tax breaks. How much more evidence do we need that tax cuts are a failed economic development strategy?

Minority families in New Mexico and nation falling behind | by Sharon Kayne

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]SHARON KAYNE is the Communications Director for New Mexico Voices for Children, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.[/box]

A sharp racial/ethnic divide has emerged within the world of low-income working families, posing a critical equity and economic challenge to New Mexico and the nation, a new study concludes. Hispanics and African-Americans, who will continue to emerge as a larger segment of the workforce, will remain under-prepared and underpaid unless lawmakers in New Mexico are willing to pursue policies that would improve conditions. The disturbing portrait of America’s low-income working families was sketched by the Working Poor Families Project based on new analysis of the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Project’s study sheds a fresh light on what’s happening inside the world of the working poor, where adults are working hard but finding it difficult if not impossible to get ahead. And within this world at the bottom of America’s economic spectrum, a stark divide has emerged between white and Asian families compared to black and Hispanic families.