Amber Wallin is all about the numbers. After all, she manages New Mexico Voices for Children’s annual Kids Count databook and oversees the organization’s research and policy work. But there is one number she had never tallied before: Her ACE score. The second annual Southern New Mexico Kids Count Conference held Wednesday in the Las Cruces Convention Center put its focus this year on childhood trauma and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences, something that affects New Mexico kids at the highest rate in the nation, and which can have lifelong effects on physical and emotional health, and learning. Her total: five ACEs.
Las Cruces City Councilor Kasandra Gandara has one big request for her partners in a new effort to tackle childhood trauma in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County: Ask every person they serve or interact with how many Adverse Childhood Experiences they’ve had. Gandara and a group of behavioral health providers, educators, community activists and health professionals hope to use that data to create a systemic approach to reducing childhood trauma, with the aim of combating child abuse in the community and improving children’s health, education and lives. Gandara was inspired for the project by the book “Anna, Age Eight: The Data-Driven Prevention of Childhood Trauma and Maltreatment,” which was based on the work of Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello at the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department’s Protective Service Division. It chronicles the life and death of a child at her mother’s hands, while making the case that the smart use of data and community involvement can prevent childhood trauma. Gandara, who ended a 28 year social-work career as a CYFD county office manager, wants to use the solutions outlined in the book as a framework for Las Cruces to move awareness of ACEs beyond child advocates and emergency responders and into the general public so that they can help their community and families heal.
New Mexico In Depth is speaking with the candidates for New Mexico governor on the issues of early childhood, child wellbeing and education. Steve Pearce of Hobbs represents southern New Mexico in Congress and is the sole Republican nominee. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Sylvia Ulloa: What would early childhood education look like in a Pearce administration. And, if you are supportive of those programs, how would you expand them to smaller communities?
New Mexico In Depth is speaking with the candidates for New Mexico governor on the issues of early childhood, child wellbeing and education. Michelle Lujan Grisham is the congresswoman from Albuquerque, and is one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. Sylvia Ulloa: Can you lay out what early childhood education would look like in New Mexico under your administration, and how you would get early childhood to rural New Mexico? Michelle Lujan Grisham: Early childhood education would be a hallmark of the administration.
Child wellbeing advocates pushing to expand childhood programs argue that New Mexico’s children are marinating in a stew of toxic stress that not only affects their health, but also underlies the state’s poor educational outcomes. This week, they got data to support their contention. A new report from the nonprofit Child Trends, using data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, found that New Mexico has some of the highest rates of children suffering from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It tied with Arizona for having 18 percent of children from birth to age 17 with three or more ACEs. The national rate for three or more ACEs is 11 percent.