Report by Kids Count chronicles racial disparities

Black children in New Mexico are more likely to be born with low birth weight, die in infancy, be suspended or expelled from school, incarcerated, placed in foster homes or die of a drug overdose than youth of any other race or ethnicity, according to a just-released Kids Count report.

About 10,500 black children live in New Mexico, and 5.6 percent of them identify as “two or more races,” according to the report, which was released jointly by New Mexico Voices for Children.

Hispanic children make up the largest share of New Mexico kids, about 59.3 percent, followed by non-Hispanic white (25.1 percent), Native American (11.2 percent), black (2.2 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islander (1.2 percent).

“Even though black and Asian children are more likely to have health insurance than children of any other race or ethnicity, black children have the highest infant mortality rate and death rate by drug overdose,” said Yvette Kaufman-Bell, executive director of the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs, in a statement. “This shows there are some serious disconnects within our health systems.”

Native American children face the greatest obstacles with a child poverty rate of 43 percent, the lowest command of reading at 26 percent, and the lowest math proficiency at 11 percent. As a group, their high school graduation rate is 63 percent.

Hispanic children have a slightly lower child poverty rate at 34.6 percent, slightly higher reading ability at 33 percent and higher math proficiency at 16 percent. Their high school graduation rate stands at 71 percent.

White and Asian children have the lowest child poverty rates, 23.3 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively; highest reading rates at 52 percent and 61 percent; and the highest math rates at 33 percent and 50 percent proficiency. Their high school graduation rates are 76 percent and 81 percent.

Black kids in New Mexico fared better than Native and Hispanic kids on most indicators, but not as well as white or Asian kids, the report indicates.

There are some bright spots for New Mexico’s black children and families. The report notes that black families in New Mexico earn more money and have higher levels of educational attainment than most other racial and ethnic groups of color.

Further, black children in New Mexico fare better than black children across the nation on several indicators of child well-being.

“While the bright spots are encouraging, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the state is failing Black children in many ways,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, in a statement. “This report provides us a research-based focus on how we better support Black children and families in New Mexico.”

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