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Elev8 New Mexico Releases Legislative Update

Resource type: News

Lt. Governor Diane Denish and the NM Children’s Cabinet hosted three days of advocacy focused on children and youth during the first three days of this year’s 30-day legislative session. “Invest in Children, Strengthen New Mexico” was the message carried by hundreds of children, youth and adults last week. Our state’s 112 citizen legislators began looking at the 2011 budget as we continue to suffer the worst economic climate in years.

NM Community Foundation and its Elev8 New Mexico and SPARK initiatives joined with the Children’s Cabinet Days at the Roundhouse. On Wednesday, the day focused on elementary and middle school-aged youth, Elev8 brought over 150 students, parents, team members and supporters to Santa Fe to advocate against proposed education, after-school enrichment, and health care budget cuts.

On Tuesday, Children’s Cabinet Days showcased the importance of early childhood with displays about childhood programs and resources, advocacy training, and a talk from an economist about what makes early childhood programs good investments.

Bill Jordan of Voices for Children and Andy Lotrich of the American Federation of Teachers coached early childhood advocates about talking with legislators.

Economist Rebecca Kilburn of the RAND Corp. said Tuesday, “A growing body of research shows that early childhood lays the foundation for future development.”

According to Kilburn, a recent study of nine programs rangin from home and parent education to preschools showed that for seven of the nine, the benefits far outsweighed the costs. She added that payoffs are often greatest with programs targeting families and children most at risk.

On Wednesday, Elev8 New Mexico was out in full force! More than 150 students, parents, team members and supporters from all five Elev8 New Mexico sites drove through snow and ice to speak to legislators about the importance of education, afterschool enrichment, and healthcare. Everyone packed the Lt. Governor Diane Denish’s press conference, where she unveiled the 2010 Children’s Budget and Report Card.

Elev8 New Mexico students spoke directly with eight of the State Senators and six State Representatives who represent the areas which Elev8 New Mexico services – Albuquerque, Southern New Mexico and Laguna Pueblo. They, along with their parents, also delivered hundreds of postcards to 23 state legislators that represent Elev8 school areas.

Students and parents attended the House Education Committee meeting and spoke in opposition to proposed legislative cuts to afterschool enrichment funding in House Bill 3, the Education Appropriation Act.

New Mexico Voices for Children released its KIDS COUNT report on children’s well-being in New Mexico at the conclusion of Children’s Cabinet Days on Thursday.

According to the study, the number of women getting prenatal care has dropped; only seven states have more children with no health insurance, and one fourth of New Mexico children live in poverty.
Four strategies that can benefit families in New Mexico, according to the report, are:

  • First-rate K-12 educational system.
  • High-quality, comprehensive health care and access to care.
  • Family support systems to provide for urgent and long-term needs.
  • High quality early childhood care and education.

“If young children are not well-fed, if they are not nurtured, if they are not being read to, they will suffer,” said Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of Las Cruces.

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