New ranking shows urgent need for collaboration, investment in what works
Following a new report that shows New Mexico still ranks 49th in the nation for child well-being, U.S. Senator Tom Udall reaffirmed his call for local, state and national collaboration to improve the health and education of New Mexico children. The new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which used 2013 data, found that New Mexico’s child poverty rate increased to 31 percent from 29 percent the year before. Udall released the following statement:
“New Mexico’s children deserve better than next to last — they deserve action. Let’s commit to strengthening the programs that help children reach their full potential — infant and toddler care, preschool, school meal programs and more. I’m pushing for legislation to invest in these anti-poverty programs at the federal level, but collaboration is what will lift New Mexico from the bottom of child well-being rankings.
“Change won’t happen overnight. We all need to work together for outcomes to improve — federal and state officials, public and private sector, community organizations and parents themselves. I’ve endorsed a state constitutional amendment to prioritize funding for early childhood education, and I’ve pushed the state legislature to act. But all of us need to challenge ourselves to do more and keep working toward progress. The future of our children and our economy depends on it.”
Earlier this year, Udall introduced legislation aimed at helping improve the health and education of New Mexico children by increasing access to federal education and anti-poverty programs. The Saving Our Next Generation (SONG) Act would fully fund and streamline eligibility for programs that are proven to improve child well-being, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Head Start, school meal programs and housing assistance.