I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
More than $1 million earmarked for early childhood development
Early childhood programs hit hard by cuts taking effect Thursday will avoid that budget pain thanks to $1 million in federal stimulus money, Gov. Bill Richardson announced Wednesday.
The federal dollars will replace hundreds of thousands of state dollars New Mexico state lawmakers cut from funding that pays for infant home visits in 22 New Mexico counties and for child care of homeless children in Albuquerque and Las Cruces.
“This award will help New Mexico families and children during a critical time,” Richardson said in a news release issued by his office.
The state’s new state budget year starts Thursday, and most of state government is bracing for the pain from budget cuts due to New Mexico’s precarious finances. Included among those reductions was $500,000 from the infants home visit program and a $234,000 reduction from the homeless child care program, Bill Dunbar, Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Children Youth and Families, told The Independent.
But the federal dollars will help the two programs avert a serious cutback, Dunbar said.
“I’m very happy. It makes my job a lot easier,” Dunbar said of the replacement federal dollars. “Both those programs are really important. They provide a great service. Healthy kids make healthy adults.”
Richardson announced the $1 million at a news conference Wednesday in which St. Joseph Community Health of Albuquerque also announced that it would supplement the federal dollars with $234,000 of its own money to help pay for infant home visits and homeless child care.
“One of our goals is to increase birth weight,” said St. Joseph’s CEO Allen Sanchez. “If they’re preemies there are development problems.”
Sanchez and others have lobbied the state to invest more in early childhood programs, citing research that shows that children who are healthy early in life often grow up to be healthy adults. Early childhood spending, advocates say, can lead to positive outcomes on many fronts, including in educational attainment and in health care.
Sanchez said Wednesday that Richardson surprised him by coming through with $1 million in federal money, which was more than he expected.
“We challenged (the governor) and we wanted him to match us and he matched us by four, which is great,” Sanchez said.