Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury, a Democrat, announced this funding during a press conference at Youth Development, Inc., one of the funding recipients, along with several Tribal leaders and a representative from the city of Albuquerque. […]

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding.

Stansbury, a Democrat, announced this funding during a press conference at Youth Development, Inc., one of the funding recipients, along with several Tribal leaders and a representative from the city of Albuquerque. The money will go toward supporting early childhood development projects and programs on some Tribal land, a youth intervention program in Albuquerque and to help youth transition out of institutional care through federal community project funding. 

Stansbury said she requests federal dollars every year for 10 to 15 projects. This year she focused on early childhood education. She and other members of New Mexico’s congressional leadership realized that while there is more spending for early childhood education programs, there is not “sufficient funding for capital projects.”

Stansbury said one of the funding recipients will be the city of Albuquerque, which is planning a young adult campus to help youth transition out of transitional care. Gilbert Ramirez, Albuquerque director of Health, Housing and Homelessness, said the city purchased the new facility for the campus earlier in May.

He said the federal funding will help the young adult campus provide wrap-around services, including housing navigation and transitional support “to make sure they enter into a more stable pathway to adulthood.”

He said that when children grow up within institutionalized care, such as foster care or housing shelters or through incarceration, they often struggle when they age out of these systems.

Stansbury said the funding is important because one in five children in New Mexico face food insecurity and New Mexico, historically, has ranked at the bottom for child well-being and education for several years.

Related: Report: New Mexico improving, but still ranks at bottom for child well being

She said there is a renaissance of investment in children. The state created a government agency, the Early Childhood Care and Education Department, in 2020 to improve early childhood education. The legislature passed a bill in 2022, which allowed a constitutional amendment to go before voters. The amendment received voter approval in the 2022 election to increase the distribution of the Permanent Land Grant Fund to improve state funding for early childcare education.  

Related: Land Grant Permanent Fund constitutional amendment is years in the making

“We have a lot of grit, determination and resilience. But what we don’t have a lot of is resources,” Stansbury said. 

Robert Chavez, president of Youth Development, Inc., said the funding  will also enable YDI to increase services for youth aging out of foster care or exiting out of incarceration or shelters who don’t have a place to stay. 

Sandia Pueblo Governor Felix Chaves said the money Sandia Pueblo will receive will be used to build a new child development center for children who face challenges. He told NM Political Report that the original building to provide a day school was built in the 1950s and it provided an education to 10 children. 

He said the pueblo grew into its current facility, which currently provides housing and education to 30 or more children. He said the Pueblo offers an emergent language program for the children to help the pueblo to keep its language alive.

“This investment is an opportunity to help us grow. We’re struggling like the rest of the world with regard to educating our children. We need that little bit of money to increase our children’s opportunity to compete in the world today,” he said. 

Gabe Aquilar, Mescalero Apache tribal council member, said the funding Mescalero Apache will receive will help the tribe expand services to children who face learning disadvantages.  

“This will help them in expanding in learning so they have all the tools they need to succeed,” he said. 

Michael Canfield, president and chief executive officer of Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque—which is owned by 19 Pueblo communities— said the center looks at the funding opportunity from a workforce perspective. 

He said the center is home to 600 people, many of whom need affordable daycare in order to join the workforce. 

Stansbury said two groups that would receive funding but could not send a representative to the press conference are the Black Leadership Council, which would use its funding to help build a new center in the International District to serve young people. There is also funding for an educational development program to better serve young people in Lincoln County.

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