from the NEW MEXICO NEWS CONNECTION - A statewide news service for New Mexico
Santa Fe - The latest numbers show unemployment in New Mexico rose by more than a third during 2008. That could put more children at risk in a state where nearly half lived in low-income families, even before the current economic crisis (according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.) Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, hopes for more focus on the welfare of children in the New Year.
Chances are good that half the children you see in the Land of Enchantment come from poor families - maybe more. Unemployment in New Mexico rose by over a third in 2008, and that's bad news for the 45 percent of children in the state who were already living in low-income families (as of 2007) before the economy turned sour. Edelman says we should all make a New Year's resolution to speak up for kids and fight back against what she calls the greed that's hitting them the hardest, "Hey, we've got some big, big problems. Open your eyes and stop being short-sighted and trying to get everything you can for this minute, while the foundation is rotting." Edelman says for those who still have jobs, too many are working full-time and still don't have enough to avoid losing their home, buy health coverage, or pay for quality childcare.
Edelman also says one big issue for children that can be addressed in 2009 is the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States, which is as wide today as ever before, "You cannot have 13 million children growing up in poverty, nine million children without basic healthcare, you cannot have a majority of all your children not reading at grade level in 12th grade."
Note: Marian Wright Edelman's latest book is "The Sea Is So Wide And My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation." You can find more statistics on child poverty at http://nccp.org .