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New Mexico, Nevada rank low for child well-being as pandemic 'set us all back a bit'

Pandemic hardships outweighed many states' gains in indicators of child well-being.
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Pandemic hardships outweighed many states' gains in indicators of child well-being.

News brief

A new analysis of child well-being ranked New Mexico last in the country, and Nevada also ranked among the worst. Other Mountain West states scored in the top half with Utah claiming a top spot

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s2022 Kids Count Data Book, published on Monday, factored in health, education, family, and economic well-being to establish an overall picture of how kids are faring.

While New Mexico ranked 50th, Amber Wallin, the executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, says it’s complicated, in part because the rankings are based on data from 2016 to 2020.

“I think while a lot of our states in the Mountain West have been making progress across a number of different indicators — which we don’t want to lose sight of, that is very important — but COVID set us all back a bit,” Wallin said.

She says the data doesn’t account for recent policy changes that support children, like state tax credits for workers with kids and more affordable child care.

But Wallin says racial inequities persist.

“It’s critically important that we invest in policy that we know improves racial equity,” she said.

Nevada ranked No. 47. Montana, Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming all graded in the top half of states, while Utah ranked fourth, behind only Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Minnesota.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2022 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson

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