Category Archives: episode

Improving Child Well-Being

Thursday, April 30 at 7:00 p.m. on Ch. 5.1

Community Co-Producer: New Mexico Voices for Children

Bill Jordan, Senior Policy Advisor, NM Voices for Children speaks with Jennifer Padgett, Deputy Secretary, Children Youth and Families Dept.

Founded in 1987 by a group of pediatricians, New Mexico Voices for is a nonpartisan, statewide advocacy organization. They work to create systems-level sustainable change that will improve the lives of New Mexico’s children. To accomplish that mission, they work with state and national lawmakers and officials to shape and implement public policies that are supportive of children and working families.

Because they use evidence–based advocacy, they conduct rigorous research and data analysis. NM Voices is the only nonprofit child advocacy organization in the state examining tax and budget policy issues specific to the needs of the poor.

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

Community Participants

Allen Sanchez

President/CEO CHI
St. Joseph’s Children

  • Operates the largest home visiting program in USA
  • Supporter of constitutional amendment for ECE
  • Advocate for children’s health issues– President and CEO St. Joseph Community

Mr. Sánchez was born in Belen, N.M. He was raised on a working cattle ranch. Allen received his Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Services from the College of Santa Fe, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy and a Master of Arts in Spirituality from St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome.

Bill Jordan

Senior Policy Advisor/Governmental Relations
New Mexico Voices for Children

  • Background in public health
  • 16 years in child advocacy

Claudia Medina

J. Paul Taylor Early Childhood Task Force

For almost 20 years, Medina engaged in helping battered immigrant women find their strength and power, as co-founder and executive director of Albuquerque’s Enlace Comunitario. She is now serving as the Director of Pathways to a Healthy Bernalillo County. The mission of Pathways is Connecting underserved county residents with health care and other support systems and assisting them as they navigate through it; Coordinating services for the underserved residents to achieve positive individual-level health outcomes; and Assuring collaborative planning and improvement of our health care system.

The YWCA named Medina “A Woman to Be Reckoned With,” which honors an extraordinary woman each year as part of the YWCA’s annual Women on the Move Awards.

Dr. Andrew Hsi


  • Developed home visiting programs
  • Medical director of the FOCUS FIT early intervention program
  • Proud grandparent of a third generation New Mexican

Andrew Hsi, MD, MPH is the Principle Investigator of the FOCUS Early Intervention Program and Reflejos Familiares Project. He is also Professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Dr. Hsi has focused on developing systems of care for children and families affected by prenatal alcohol and drug exposure, family violence and parental mental illness.

Dr. Sara del Campo de Gonzalez

UNM Hospital

  • Head of UNM Advocacy Program in Pediatrics
  • Pediatrician, Young Children’s Health Center
  • Mother of 2

Erica Stubbs

Early Learning Advisory Council Medical Services

  • Director of Children’s Services, Presbyterian Medical Services
  • Provider of Head Start, Early Head Start, Pre-K and home visiting services in New Mexico

Hailey Heinz

Senior Policy Analyst
UNM Center for Education Policy Research

  • Former public education reporter
  • Had first baby in June

Hailey Heinz currently works as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Education Policy Research, where her emphasis is on bringing data stories to life and making those stories meaningful for readers from all backgrounds. She holds a masters degree in political science, with an emphasis on public policy.

Before joining CEPR, Hailey was a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal, where she covered K-12 education for four years spanning two very different gubernatorial administrations. Her reporting included the politics of education as well as the real-world implications of different education policy choices. Before taking on the education beat, Hailey covered crime at the Albuquerque Journal, and has past reporting experience on a variety of topics for the Boston Globe and the Anchorage Daily News.

Sofia Van Tassle

Saint Joseph’s Community Health

  • Mother of twins
  • Bachelor’s in Psychology
  • Native New Mexican


Jennifer Padgett

Deputy Cabinet Secretary
Children Youth and Families Department

  • Appointed by Governor Susana Martinez in October 2012
  • Former Crimes Against Children prosecutor

Leighann Lenti

Deputy Secretary
Public Education Department

  • Appointed by Governor Martinez in 2013
  • Over 11 years federal & state education policy experience

Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino

New Mexico State Senator, Dist. 12
D – Albuquerque

  • Retired social worker
  • Grandfather of 12 (ages 16 to 5)
  • Sponsored bill that created the Children’s Cabinet

Senator John Sapien

New Mexico State Senator
D – Albuquerque

  • Chairman Legislative Education Study Committee
  • Chairman Senate Education Committee
  • Small Business Owner

Senator Sue Wilson Beffort

New Mexico State Senator
R – Sandia Park

  • Member of LFC & HHS
  • Co-Sponsor of full day kindergarten bill
  • Numerous other early childhood bills

Access to Children’s Healthcare

Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5.1

In New Mexico, about 9 percent of children do not have health insurance coverage. We all pay when children aren’t covered. These kids are less likely to receive necessary medication and more likely to experience a hospital stay that could have been avoided by seeing a doctor earlier. And healthier kids lead to more productive, healthy adults.

Ideally this situation would improve under the national Affordable Healthcare Act. There will be an expansion of the Medicaid program and a new health insurance exchange to help families purchase coverage. But will things get better?

On this month’s Public Square, we hear from mothers who have struggled to make sure their kids have coverage. And we talk with community and health advocates about the challenges in getting kids access to care.

Community leaders include State Rep. James Roger Madalena, D-Jemez Pueblo, State Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Albuquerque, and Rory Cobb, director of outreach for New Mexico Health Connections.

Join New Mexico PBS for a PUBLIC SQUARE, where civic dialogue takes center stage. Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. PUBLIC SQUARE is hosted & produced by Megan Kamerick.

Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:

“I was terrified that something would send us into a debt for a medical emergency we couldn’t handle.”
~Micaela Cadena, Mother and Policy Director, Young Women United

“There are 40,000 kids in NM who should be on Medicaid and who are not on the program.”
~Sireesha Manne, Attorney, New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty

“The process is so cumbersome. It’s not for lack of trying on everyone’s part to get those kids covered.”
~Rory Cobb, Director of Community Outreach, New Mexico Health Connections

“There’s no way to handle it. You just have to file the bills away and prepare when there is a chance to pay.”
~Lillian Sanchez, Mother with child on Medicaid

Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

Thursday, June 27 at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5.1

The impact of domestic violence on children can last a lifetime. Children exposed to violence in the home often experience psychosomatic illnesses, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Later in life, these children are at greater risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and criminal behavior than those raised in homes without violence.

Albuquerque is a leader in providing innovative solutions and resources for victims with resources like the Family Advocacy center. Yet, the statistics are disturbing as the number of domestic violence cases remains high.

This month’s Public Square focuses on what is being done to reduce domestic violence and provide support for victims.

In this program, victims of domestic violence share the impact on their families and how they have overcome the violence in their lives. We also are joined by diverse community groups working to provide support and resources. Community leaders include Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Shultz, District Attorney Kari Brandenburg , and Rosemary Cosgrove -Aguliar Special Commissioner for Domestic Violence Second Judicial District Court.

Join New Mexico PBS for a PUBLIC SQUARE, where civic dialogue takes center stage. Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. PUBLIC SQUARE is hosted & produced by Megan Kamerick.

Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:

“It’s hard to worry about what the capital of North Dakota is if you’re not sure your mom’s safe at home.”
~Rosemary Cosgrove-Aguilar, domestic violence hearing officer

“As a kid growing up in this environment I lied to the cops when they came to my house. I made them coffee, I never wanted them to leave, but I lied through my teeth.”
~Joanne Fine, survivor of childhood domestic violence

“As a mother and as an immigrant I was afraid thinking I’m never going to see my children again.”
~Flor Maria Caro, domestic violence survivor

“That part of our brain of flight or fight is so much stronger for survival, it’s shutting down other parts of the brain that would produce algebra, poetry, music.”
~Patricia McKeen, treatment provider for batterers

Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Early Brain Development

Thursday, May 30 at 7 p.m. on Ch. 5.1

Before children learn to talk, it may seem like not much is happening. In fact, from age 0 to 3 is the most important time for brain development. In those first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are formed every second. Young children naturally reach out for interaction. In the absence of responses, their brains don’t form as expected. That can impact their learning and social development.

What do we need to do to ensure all of New Mexico’s children get effective early brain development?

On this month’s Public Square, we talk with experts, educators and advocates, including Ellen Galinsky, founder of Mind in the Making and author of “The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs.”

Community leaders include Dan Haggard, deputy director of the Children Youth & Family Department’s Early Childhood Services, Brenda Kofahl, Pre-K program specialist with the Public Education Department and Heather Vaughn, early childhood manager with Albuquerque Public Schools.

Join New Mexico PBS for a PUBLIC SQUARE, where civic dialogue takes center stage. Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. PUBLIC SQUARE is hosted & produced by Megan Kamerick.

Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:

“That’s our tagline. School success begins at birth.”
Dorothy Kerwin, early child training and development consultant

“I think this is one of disconnects we have in our society. We’re not paying attention to those infants up to three years old.”
~Pam Segel, early childhood development specialist

“When they’re coming in there is that achievement gap, and it may narrow, but it doesn’t ever close.”
~Peggy Candelaria, principal of Manzano Mesa Elementary School

“Psychosocial factors like domestic violence, poverty, just general stresses even in utero actually affect the way the brain develops.”
~Alexandra Cvijanovich, president of New Mexico Pediatric Society

“All of us can be brain builders and we’re not doing that so we have along way to go.”
~Ellen Galinsky, founder of Mind in the Making

Funding for PUBLIC SQUARE was provided in part by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.