Category Archives: episode

Improving Child Well-Being

Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. on Ch. 5.1

We premiere our fourth season of Public Square with perhaps one of the most important and discussed topics: How do we improve New Mexico’s child well-being? With a long history of low rankings, this year New Mexico was ranked 49th in the country on child well-being by the Kids Count Survey. That translates into major costs as they grow up, including more teen pregnancies, dropouts, poverty and crime. What would it take to improve those numbers and ensure our children have a better future?

The impetus to focus more resources on children in their early years is steadily growing nationwide and in New Mexico as research on brain development reveals how crucial those early years are to building cognitive, emotional and social skills. State policymakers have steadily increased the amount of money going into early childhood programs, yet the percentage of children these programs are reaching remains small.

Even economists have argued this kind of investment yields returns as high as $18 for every dollar spent. So should the state marshal its resources by only making targeted investments in the kids at the most risk? Or should it pour far more money into this effort and make early childhood programs more universally available?

In this program, we bring together a family in need, advocates, and experts in early childhood for a candid, and often challenging, solution-based conversation. Community leaders include State Senators Sue Wilson Beffort, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, and John Sapien as well as Jennifer Padgett, deputy secretary of the Children, Youth and Families Department, and Leighann Lenti, deputy secretary of the Public Education Department.

Join us for the premier of Public Square, where civic dialogue takes center stage: Thursday, October 30 at 8 p.m. on PBS 5.1.

Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:

“This is the most important issue facing our state – what’s happening to our kids – and we’re taking a very incremental, slow, futile approach to what’s needed and we’re condemning ourselves to failure by this.”
Jerry Ortiz y Pino, State Senator

“What I don’t think we want to do is water down services for those who really need it.”
Sue Wilson Beffort, State Senator

“I don’t see the investment that matches up with what we already know about brain development.”
Dr. Andy Hsi, Director of UNM FOCUS program

“How bad does it have to get before we get motivated and generate the political will?”
Bill Jordan, New Mexico Voices for Children

“Our state has an epidemic of toxic stress. These adverse childhood experiences are delaying our children.”
Allen Sanchez, St. Joseph’s Children