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New Mexico is 50th in child wellbeing, but some rankings improve


New Mexico is ranked last in child well-being in a national report, but its numbers are improving.

The 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book, a 50-state report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that analyzes how children and families are faring, was published earlier this month. It shows that “New Mexico has seen consistent improvements over time in most indicators,” New Mexico Voices for Children said in a news release. “However, those improvements are outweighed by the hardship felt by families in 2020 due to the pandemic,” the news release said.

New Mexico Voices for Children is a nonpartisan, statewide advocacy organization based in Albuquerque.

The report tracked 16 indicators of child wellbeing under four domains: economic well-being, education, health and family and community. This year’s report also includes data on the increases in children experiencing anxiety or depression during the first year of the COVID crisis. 

 Here are some of the report results for children:

  • Children in poverty: New Mexico: 121,000 children, 26 percent, 2016-20, down from 28 percent, 2008-12; United States: 12.6 million children, 17 percent, 2016-20, down from 21 percent, 2008-12;
  • Teens not in school and not working: New Mexico 11,000 teens, 10 percent, 2016-20, down from 11 percent 2008-12; U.S.: 1.153 million teens, seven percent, 2016-20, down from eight percent, 2008-12;
  • Fourth graders not proficient in reading: New Mexico, 76 percent in 2019, down from 80 percent in 2009; U.S.: 66 percent in 2019, down from 68 percent in 2009;
  • Eighth graders not proficient in math: New Mexico 79 percent in 2019, down from 80 percent in 2009; U.S.: 67 percent in both 2019 and 2009;
  • Children without health insurance: New Mexico: 29,000, six percent, 2016-20, down from 11 percent, 2008-12; U.S.: 4.02 million, five percent, 2016-20, down from eight percent, 2008-12;
  • Children and teens ages 10-17) who are overweight or obese: New Mexico: 34 percent, 2019-20, up from 30 percent, 2016-17; U.S.: 32 percent, 2019-20, up from 31 percent, 2016-17;
  • Children in single-parent families: New Mexico: 194,000, 43 percent, 2016-20, up from 41 percent, 2008-12; U.S.: 34 percent in both 2016-20 and 2008-12.

Data show that COVID has been especially hard on children’s mental health, with children in America struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels, the news release said. The report shows 11.8 percent of children across America were likely to encounter anxiety and depression in 2020, the first year of the COVID crisis, a 26 percent increase from the rate of 9.4 percent in 2016. New Mexico’s figure jumped from 11.4 percent of children ages 3-17 (46,000 children) in 2016 to 12.9 percent (53,000 children) in 2020.

Children’s conference

New Mexico Voices for Children will hold its 10th annual Kids Count Conference online, 10 a.m.-noon, Thursday, Aug. 18. Visit www.nmvoices.org/kcc to register.

View the 2022 Data Book at www.aecf.org. Also visit www.nmvoices.org and www.aecf.org.