I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Kids key to improving state’s economic outlook
A report released Thursday by the non-profit group New Mexico Voices for Children, and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, suggests the best way to improve the state’s economic outlook, and quality of life, is to improve the well being of the state’s children.
And if that’s the case the state still has a long way to go, because the research outlined in the report shows New Mexico is still one of the lowest-ranked states in the nation in terms of child well being.
The report indicates New Mexico has the fourth highest rate of children without health insurance and more than one quarter of children here live in poverty. Only four other states have a higher percentage of families who are “food insecure.”
The 2009 reports is critical of New Mexico for its low budget allocation to early childcare development, only about 1.8 percent annually, because of the research that proves high quality early childhood education programs provide the stimulation needed for healthy growth and brain development.
Kids Count Director Christine Hollis said she wants the state to implement a pro-family/pro-child policy framework, and invest in early childcare care and development, the K-12 education system and quality health care with affordable health insurance. Effective family support systems, she said, provide social and economic benefits for all residents by reducing crime, dependence on welfare and other ills associated with poverty.
“Research shows that good quality childhood programs not only prepare children for success in school and life, but also give a return on investment of up to $16 for every dollar spent,” New Mexico Voices for Children’s Gerry Bradley said. “It’s one of the most cost-effective things we can do, since we’ll lower dropout rates, reduce crime, and improve employment rates over time.”
But with agency cuts looming Kids Count Director Christine Hollins worries any progress the state had been making from it’s investment in Medicaid, childcare assistance and education could be jeopardized.
“We were just about to see some positive change, and now most of these improvements are being cut,” Hollis said. “Instead of hurting families who are struggling even more right now, we need supportive policies for early childhood care and development, a continuum of quality K-12 education, health care cover, and family supports.”