Report: NM's Hispanic Families Hurt Most by Pandemic
Thursday, January 20, 2022
New Mexico's families of color, Hispanic families in particular, have been hit hardest by income losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.
The annual Kids Count Data Book from New Mexico Voices for Children tracks 16 indicators across four domains: economic security, education, health, and family and community.
Emily Wildau, KIDS COUNT coordinator at New Mexico Voices for Children, said families suffering from income losses relied heavily on monthly checks from the American Rescue Plan.
"One of the most interesting things in that hardship data is limited numbers on how families have been spending the expanded child tax credit," Wildau reported. "Primarily, they're paying for their basic needs, they're paying down debt at really high rates and trying to do some saving as well."
The payments would have been continued for another year under the Build Back Better Act, which has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
Wildau pointed out data showed the pandemic led to increases in childhood food insecurity, greater numbers of children enrolled in Medicaid, and significantly higher numbers of chronically absent students.
New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the country, but is currently flush with resources due to federal relief dollars and high state revenues. At the same time, the state regularly ranks last in K-12 education.
It could change if voters approve a question on this November's ballot to tap the state's Land Grant Permanent Fund to provide additional money for early childhood and K-12 education.
Wildau hopes the new data pointed will keep lawmakers focused on child and family well-being.
"We want to consider everything that's done now with the budget, as far as early childhood goes especially, is seen as a bridge to hopefully passage of that amendment so that there's permanent funding," Wildau urged.
In her State of the State address this week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham highlighted education, promoting a 7% raise for educators this year, noting the proposal would put New Mexico first in the region for average educator pay.
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