ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – According to several indicators by the national 2020 Kids Count Data Book, New Mexico still ranks 50th in the nation on child well-being. New Mexico has now ranked at the very bottom of the list for the fourth year for child well-being after ranking 50th in 2013, 2018, and 2019.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation puts out the Data Book every year which focuses on 16 indicators of child well-being that track economic, education, and health issues as well as others and then ranks the 50 states. The report does use the most recent data that are available, however, this year’s data is mostly from 2018 so it doesn’t take into effect the current health pandemic and economic slowdown.
There were improvements made this year including the stat’s child poverty rate which is at 26%. This is the lowest it’s been in almost a decade.
“Our educational outcomes are still a big concern and are not indicative of what our children are capable of achieving, given the right resources,” said Amber Wallin, deputy director of NM Voices in a press release. “Our share of young children not enrolled in an educational care setting has improved, but only incrementally. We did make some gains in education funding over the past year, but sustained investments – especially through the pandemic and economic downturn- will be needed before we see the benefit of those increases in measurable outcomes.”
Additionally, the teen birth rate declined as the rate was 25 births per 1,000 female teens from the ages of 15 to 19 which compares to 66 per 1,000 according to the 2010 Data Book. The Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in New Mexico has resulted in the state ranking at 24th in the nation as the percentage of children without health insurance which is 5%.
This year, one of the indicators, teens who abuse alcohol or drugs, has been replaced with a new indicator, teens ages 10 to 17 who are overweight or obese. The change occured as changes in how the data was collected made the previous indicator less reliable and data on teens who are overweight has become available. However, New Mexico did not do well on the new indicator as 32% of teens are overweight or obese and ranks the state as 33rd in the nation.
—by KRQE staff