Change is in your hands
If you drove past the Cuidando Los Niños facility in Albuquerque, NM you wouldn’t even notice that inside the four-pod building a much needed service is being provided to 52 homeless children, below the age of five, who are being provided the most basic care.
Unfortunately, these children represent only the smallest fraction of those who need such are.
Child homelessness is a statewide crisis that has affected the lives of thousands of New Mexico’s most innocent residents, and yet on the state level not enough is being done to put an end to this crisis. Only 2% of its budget going to child care.
In a report released by the National Center on Family Homelessness in 2009, New Mexico ranks as the 47th in child homelessness across the country, with nearly 9,000 children having experienced being homeless in 2009. The numbers are expected to be higher in 2010.
Fortunately for New Mexico, Cuidando Los Niños has since then grown into a facility that provides a pediatric clinic, family health care, child counseling and housing for their clients. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough facilities in the state of New Mexico such as theirs.
Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t stop in New Mexico. In a study released by the National Center on Family Homelessness in 2009, one third of the entire homeless population are children under six years old.
So what does this mean? How can we help?
Eric Griego, a New Mexico State Senator and also the Executive Director of New Mexico Voices of Children, an organization dedicated to ending child homelessness is to stop allowing cutbacks to be made in areas where it’s most needed.
“We aren’t ever going to get out this recession if we keep eliminating help for those who most need it,” Griego said.
There are certain programs such as health insurance for children that are receiving budget cuts, said Griego. That shouldn’t even be on the table for consideration.
For that he said, we need to raise public awareness so that we may put pressure on those in government to prioritize our children. More public awareness about this social issue needs to be disseminated so that more funding could be given to facilities that invest in early childhood development.
We need to stop believing that the only way we will get out of this recession and cut down on the deficit is if we cut back on government spending, Greigo said. Not only does it not work, it’s crazy. This is when the government needs to kick in.
And the most efficient way of doing that is by having a strong partner in the federal government, said Greigo.
(This is an update from Jacky Guerrero, a blogger on the One Nation Working Together California “Blog Mobile,” an RV with bloggers driving from Los Angeles to Washington, DC – chronicling the stories of working Americans they meet along the way. The trip is sponsored in part by SEIU United Long Term Care Workers. For more, visit: OneNationCa.org)
Photo Caption: Three children play during break-time at the Cuidando Los Niños childcare facility. Children are enrolled in the facility for a year where they receive pediatric attention, counseling services and Pre-kindergarten classes. But, most importantly they get a chance to interact with other children who are in their similar situation. Photo Caption: Jacky GuerreroShareThis