NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The national 2021 Kids Count Data Book, compiled and published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, was released on Monday, June 21, and tracks a total of 16 indicators of child well-being. According to a press release from the advocacy organization, New Mexico Voices for Children, this year’s data book shows that New Mexico is no longer ranked last for child well-being and has moved up to its ranking of 49th in the nation.
The organization cites the state’s higher ranking with improvements New Mexico saw in child well-being before the start of the pandemic. Since the ranking is based on the most recent comprehensive data which is mostly from 2019, the ranking doesn’t reflect difficulties faced by New Mexican families since the start of the pandemic.
New Mexico Voices for Children repots that while families with children nationwide have faced hardships such as financial and educational challenges since the start of the pandemic, states that ranked in the bottom 20 on the 16 indicators, including New Mexico, were likely to perform worse during the pandemic as well. Pandemic-specific data that was included in the Data Book included a family’s lack of confidence paying rent or mortgage and access to a computer and internet.
The national data book uses indicators to track child well-being including child poverty, fourth-grade reading scores, child and teen death rates, and teen birth rates. According to the press release, some long-term improvements from 2010 include decreases in child poverty, as well as improvements in high school students not graduating on time, children without health insurance, and teen birth rates.
The Data Book shows Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Mexico are the three lowest-ranking states for overall child well-being while Massachusetts ranks first and is followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. The 2021 Kids Count Data Book is available to read and download online.