Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Yet as a society, we assume that new parents will automatically know how to meet their babies’ needs. That makes for hit or miss child rearing. In the worst cases, that can mean neglect and even abuse. We have seen those tragedies play out far too often in New Mexico as we languish at the bottom of rankings in child well-being.
One way to help parents is through home visiting. It’s getting a lot of attention nationally as a way to support caregivers and help children thrive. New Mexico has steadily increased funding for home visiting programs, but we’re still just reaching a fraction of children who could benefit. And advocates say more investment now would save money down the road on social services, incarceration and poor educational outcomes.
So how can we ensure children and families get the support they need? On this month’s Public Square, we talk with parents who receive home visiting programs as well as home visitors and experts in infant mental health. We also speak with state representatives Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, and Jimmie C. Hall, R-Albuquerque, as well as Kelly Klundt with the Legislative Finance Committee and Selestte Sanchez, director of home visiting programs for the Children Youth and Families Department.
Funding for the production of this Public Square program is provided by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation working to improve the lives of vulnerable children. This program is the result of a partnership with Mission: Graduate and funded locally by the United Way of Central New Mexico. And, this program is part of American Graduate, let’s make it happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:
“It’s just overwhelming to be a parent so it’s great to sit down and have a set of tools and have an expert, an advocate, to navigate that.”
Oriana Sandoval, Parent
“Basically every question I had when it came to a child, it was answered.”
Amanda Jim, Parent
“Raising your child is so much more than making sure they’re clothed and fed and have a roof over their heads … it’s about helping them grow and develop as a human being.”
Dianne Wagemann, Manager of Home Visiting Programs, CHI St. Joseph’s Children
“A lot of (parents) say ‘I’m realizing what I did not get and I want to do it differently but I don’t know how.'”
Louise Kahn, Specialty Nurse, Nurse-Family Partnership Program
“There’s science behind to show that what we do with these babies early on, with these infants and toddlers, will have a strong effect on their brain development.”
Joe DeBonis, Education and Development Manager, UNM Center for Development and Disability
V.P. of Operations & Program Development
United Way of Santa Fe County
Former deputy secretary of CYFD
Education and Development Manager,
UNM Center for Development and Disability
CHI St. Joseph’s Children
Paul “Leroy” Goats
Strategic Project Director:
UNM Continuing Education Cont Education
Representative Jimmie C. Hall – (R)
Parent receiving home visiting services
Specialty Nurse, Nurse-Family Partnership Program
Legislative Finance Committee
Tribal Home Visiting Program Dir.
Native American Professional Parent Resources
Early Childhood Education & Family Development Division
Youth Development, Inc.
Selestte D. Sanchez
Home Visiting Supervisor
Children Youth and Families Dept.
Parent using home visiting services
Evelyn Garcia Tarango & Miguel Tarango
Manager of Home Visiting Programs, CHI St. Joseph’s Children