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

Chair
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

Pediatrician
UNM

  • 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.

http://cdd.unm.edu/echfs/Focus.html

Dr. Sara del Campo de Gonzalez

Pediatrician
UNM Hospital

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

http://pediatrics.unm.edu/education/residency/programs/parc.html
http://hospitals.unm.edu/children/young_childrens.shtml

Erica Stubbs

Chairperson
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

Participant
Saint Joseph’s Community Health

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

Leadership

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

http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/

Senator John Sapien

New Mexico State Senator
D – Albuquerque

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

http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/

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

http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/

3 thoughts on “Improving Child Well-Being

  1. Good selection of individual stakeholders including early child care providers and providees – and legislators and state government management. Solid and understandable use of data and anecdote to clarify the challenges and what is at stake for New Mexico children, families, society, and business.

    Megan Kamerick did a great job of keeping the focus on both ‘sides’ of the issue – “incrementalism is a weak solution to a NOW problem that has been NOW for quite a while; we’re talking about losing ‘another’ generation, as well as future generations by delaying; it is pretty well known what works and how it works so let’s get on with it.” – and – “We’re making some progress slowly and deliberately which is the way to go until we are certain what works where and how; there is no need to go and drain funds until we know better what works.”

    I was very interested to learn of the Governor’s “Children’s Cabinet” and how insular (non-inclusive) and non-communicative they have been. I thought Megan’s handling of that was masterful.
    ~Tom Miles

  2. That was a real energized dialogue on Public Square last night.
    Well done!
    I appreciate this focus on early childhood education—and the expansion of information sharing and, we hope, commitment to action. I had board members respond to me last night and this morning thanking me for encouraging them to watch it.
    Looking forward to future topics!
    ~Angela Merkert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *