Commentary: WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 16, 2018) - Following the release of the 2017 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) expressed serious concern about the findings and called for bold action to create economic opportunities and address the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents in New Mexico. He urged the state to invest a portion of its Land Grant Permanent Fund in the most effective early childhood programs. The report ranked the state 49th in the nation for overall child well-being for the fourth year in a row and ranked the state last in education.
“While we’ve made improvements in nearly every category, New Mexico’s progress still lags behind the rest of the country in child poverty and education. It is unacceptable that almost a third of children in New Mexico live in poverty,” said Senator Heinrich. “It is clear that bold action is needed to invest in early childhood education and take a two-generation approach to increase opportunities for families in the state. Our state has an opportunity to advance forward looking policies designed to make more substantial progress and improve our current trajectory. It is long past time to put our Permanent Fund to work for early childhood education and ensure children have the resources they need to succeed. We also need to protect the gains we’ve made in health care and continue to fight for pragmatic solutions to level the playing field for hard-working New Mexico families.”
Last year, Senator Heinrich introduced the Two-Generation Economic Empowerment Actto dramatically improve the federal government's approach to ending the multigenerational cycle of poverty in New Mexico and across the country. The legislation will give states, local governments, and tribes more flexibility to create partnerships that invest in families living in poverty. The bipartisan bill is the product of a multi-year collaborative effort to balance the interests and input of a broad array of stakeholders, including Ascend at the Aspen Institute, United Way of Santa Fe County, and New Mexico Voices for Children. Senator Heinrich has hosted a series of events across New Mexico to discuss a two-generation approach to creating economic opportunities and addressing the needs of both vulnerable children and their parents.