Inside this issue:
Be a CASA Volunteer
Give A Child A Voice!
FourthJudicial District CASA
Volume5 Issue 1
Special points of interest:
KIDS COUNT REPORT
Be the Voice of a Child today!
Volume 5 Issue 1 Winter 2015
2015 NM KIDS COUNT REPORT
The latest data on the status of our children is in and it continues to look dire. While nationally NM’s overall rating went from 50th to 49th, there was essentially no improvement in the four domains assessed—economic well being, education, health, and family and community. We continue to rank 49th in all these areas. NM ranks 48th in the nation for child poverty. The factors of poverty (1 in 5 NM’s live in poverty), lack of education (of NM workers aged 18-64, 15%have not graduated from high school and 69% have no college degree), and being one of only 4 US states with a minority/majority child population (75%) are the primary conditions contributing to our continuing low rankings.
In San Miguel county, 34% of our children live in poverty, in Mora it is 15% and in Guadalupe county, 40% (Overall in the US, the number of children living in poverty is 23%; in NM it is 28%). 42% of NM children rely on SNAP (food stamps) benefits. Nationally the rate of children living in poverty has risen from 19% in 2005 to the current 23% level, which is consistent with the economic trends of the middle class slipping further behind.
Part of this economic issue also involves children who live in families where no parent has full-time, year round employment. Our local economies are particularly hard hit—-43% of children in San Miguel county live in such families, 51% in Guadalupe county and 57% in Mora county. Overall for NM, the rate is 38% and only 35% nationally. Aligned with this is the percentage of teens aged 16-19 who are not in school and not employed—-8% nationally, 11% for NM, 11% for San Miguel co., 16% for Mora co. and 20% for Guadalupe co. Lack of em-ployment leads to more poverty, which contributes to a poorer general outcome for our children.
In terms of education issues, NM has the 2nd highest rate in the US (68%)of low income students in public schools. Consider that in relation to proficiency rates in math and reading in NM. For 4th graders, only 40% of NM students are proficient at reading. In terms of local schools, the rates are as follows: 50% for LVCS; 48% for Mora, 46% Pecos, 47% Santa Rosa, 33% Wagon Mound and 45% WLVS. The other measure of proficiency looked at is 8th graders and math. Again for NM, the overall proficiency is 40%; for LVCS it is 37%, Mora 29%, Pecos 28%, Santa Rosa 37% Wagon Mound 0% and WLVS 25%.
Our high school students, in 2013, also showed significant thoughts of suicide—-29% in Guadalupe co., 20% in Mora and 38% in San Miguel co. This in turn translates into 9% in Guadalupe co., 6% in Mora and 13% in San Miguel co., of students who actually attempted suicide.
As to CYFD statistics, as of 12/12, San Miguel co., had 3.2% of the state’s children in custody, while the county has only 2.4% of the state’s children who live here. According to the 2010 census, there were 7, 663 children living in San Miguel co., 8978 in Guadalupe co., and 1134 in Mora co. Among these children, during the third quarter of 2014, there were 229 reports of child abuse in the Fourth Judicial District. Of those 59.8% were substantiated, the majority for physical neglect. During the period of Jan.-March 2014 the recurrence of maltreatment within 6 months of a previously substantiated report was 20.41%, as opposed to 8.68% for NM. That is a very high rate and should be unacceptable to the citizens of our community.
So, what happens to these children who have been abused by their families? Many of them are placed in foster care out-
side of the Las Vegas area, as there is a severe lack of foster homes here. From 2013 to 2014, the number of licensed foster homes in our area dropped from 35 to 17. Of those, most only accept relative placements or provide respite care. Statewide the number of foster homes has dropped during the same period, from 2098 to 1995.
Clearly, NM continues to lag behind in serving our children. NM Voices For Children has made some policy recommendations for improving the situation. They include: tax loopholes for corporations, investing in children’s early years, through programs such as home visiting services for infants and toddlers, supporting a two generation approach that promotes income stability for children and parents, increasing the investment in out of school programs and implementing the ACA.
All of us can support the measures which help children on a macro-level. We can also work on a micro-level, in our own community, through programs such as CASA, to provide a voice for children. These children are at the mercy of the adults in their lives, and the system, through no fault of their own. If you would like more information on how you can join CASA's efforts, please call 454-0223 or go to the National CASA website.
Be CASA Donor
Programs such as CASA cannot continue to exist without the support and generosity of our local community members and businesses.
It is with your help that we are able to train volunteers to be able to advocate for the neglected and abused children in our community. So thank you for being part of the process of giving those children a voice.
Become a CASA volunteer. Call 454-0223 for more information on how you can be the voice of a child in our community!
Our volunteer of the quarter is Carol Winkel, one of our longest standing volunteers, having been with CASA since October of 2011.
Amigos de CASA
Amigos de CASA is an opportunity to support the CASA Fourth program even if you are unable to actually volunteer as an advocate. We have occasional opportunities to utilize volunteers in another capacity than advocacy, such as staffing a booth at the health fair or doing presentations to community organizations. In addition, our community is an important source of financial support for our program. While we realize that donation dollars are stretched thin these days, we would ask that you think about the children who have no one to speak for them and how our volunteers are here to do that. We have several levels of partnership in Amigos de CASA, ranging from corporate sponsorships to student buddies. We also accept in memoriam donations, which is a way to remember loved ones, while helping the children who will be our future. All donations are tax deductible. For further information please contact our office at 454-0223. We have materials available which further explain our Amigos de CASA program. Please be there for a child today! And thank you to everyone in the community who is already helping!
Volunteers Attending the CLI
We were fortunate this year to have five of our dedicated volunteers, along with our Executive Director, Dr. Phyllis Martinez , attend the Children’s Law institute in Albuquerque. The CLI is an annual conference which presents updated information on children’s issues, especially pertaining to legal issues. Attendees include attorneys, judges, social workers, CASA volunteers and others who work with children. This year’s conference featured topics such as The Rights of Parents of Children With Disabilities, Suicide Prevention Protocols for Youth, Reducing the Use of Psychotropic Medications In Foster Care, Restorative Justice, Pediatric Bipolar Disorder and The Youth Attorney Role. The Volunteers who attended were Judy Bennett, Don Bennett, Meg Fondy, Janis Schneider and Jon Schneider. They will be presenting what they learned to their fellow volunteers at our next volunteer meeting. We appreciate their taking three days to attend.
Do you know what it feels like to not know where you will be living from day to day? What your house will look like? Who will be picking you up from school? What the name of the food is that is placed in front of you? Where your parents, or your brothers and sisters or the little cat you loved so much is? Do you know how it feels to wake alone, in a strange house, in the middle of the night, and wonder what you did wrong to cause people come and take you away from your parents?
For children in foster care these are but a few of the things that go through their minds. As a CASA volunteer you can help a child as they go through the system You
can be a point of stability for them.
Step up. Be a voice for a child! To find out more about how you can be a CASA volunteer, call 454-0223 or come by 18 Gallegos Rd., Las Vegas, NM. A child will thank you!!
P.O. Box 1495
Las Vegas, NM 87701
Currently there are over 2,300 children in foster care in New Mexico. Over 700 of them are eligible and waiting to be adopted. Most of these youths have suffered physically, sexually or emotionally from abuse, neglect or abandonment by family members. As a CASA volunteer you can be a powerful voice for these young victims in foster care.
We’re on the WEB: www.casafourthnm.org
P. O. 1495
18 Gallegos Rd
Las Vegas, N.M. 87701
Phone: 505 454 0223
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