Why New Mexico needs the 100% Family Center
During this 30-day legislative session for New Mexico, as we still navigate an unpredictable pandemic, adjusting to disruptions to our health care, education and local economies, I focus on priorities .
There is nothing more important to me than the health, safety and education of our children, which is why I led the charge in creating the 100% New Mexico Initiative, a program across the state that allows county leaders to ensure access to ten essential services, including medical care, mental health care, home security programs, food security programs and transportation. Through this initiative, we know that families continue to struggle to access these resources, with nearly half reporting significant difficulty accessing what we call the “ten vital services to thrive and survive.”
We can no longer say, “New Mexico supports families with life-changing support services,” if those services are completely inaccessible. This crisis for New Mexico families demands action from all of us at the Roundhouse, which is why I sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 211 to fund a groundbreaking project called 100% Family Center. It will be a one-stop service center for family members, connecting them to parenting support, early learning programs, health care, pantries, job training and education. other vital services. Some services will be offered on site, others on the Web, and all will be accessible to parents. At each step, families will be supported by center navigators who are local service experts and have assessed what services are actually available locally.
Not only will the 100% Family Center connect parents to existing services, but the staff will include project developers whose job would be to identify the limitations of local services and figure out how to remove those barriers. Through this, we move service providers from their familiar position of simply administering services to finding ways to scale them, which is one of the many reasons the All-Family Center is revolutionary. Through SB211, this one-of-a-kind center will be developed and piloted in Las Cruces, a Doña Ana Resilience Leaders project led by Mayor of Las Cruces, Pro Tem Kasandra Gandara.
Senate Bill 211 funds a very timely and urgent project. The 100% Family Center can serve as a model for building health and self-sufficiency for all of New Mexico’s 33 counties. This initiative is a powerful and innovative approach to building back better, with children and families as the number one priority. In the midst of a hectic legislative session filled with conflicting agendas, I am proud to represent a state government led by a committed governor whose agencies are working tirelessly for families. SB 211 is an example of lawmakers and stakeholders, at all levels of government, innovating and uniting for the health, safety and empowerment of all of our children, parents and grandparents. The return on investment of a 100% Family Center, in these turbulent times, has never been so clear.
Bill Soules, PhD, is an educator and state senator from New Mexico. To learn more about the 100% Family Center meeting the needs of families, visit https://www.100nm.org/.