A Win-Win Situation That Just Makes Sense
Change agent Kathy Price shares how she’s starting the groundbreaking initiative 100% New Mexico in San Juan county.
Kathy Price works as the Regional Childcare Coordinator of the New Mexico Regional Education Cooperatives Association (NM-RECA) and SW Regional Education Cooperative serving the communities in the following school districts: Central, Farmington, Bloomfield, Aztec, Gallup, Grants, Zuni, Dulce, Chama Valley, Mesa Vista, Questa, Taos, Jemez Mountain, Jemez Valley, Española, Peñasco, Cuba, Los Alamos, Pojoaque, Rio Rancho and Bernalillo. Learn more about NM-RECA.
Starting a bold initiative can start with simple steps. We are currently developing with local stakeholders the 100% New Mexico initiative in 14 counties. Our ultimate goal is ensuring that every family has local access to the ten vital services for surviving and thriving. This is collaborative work involving community leaders, healthcare providers, city councilors, county commissioners, school board members, educators, businesspeople, and all those providing services to children, students, parents and caregiving grandparents. I asked Kathy Price to share her insights focused on the process of starting something very new in her community.
Q: How did you learn about 100% New Mexico and what attracted you to it?
Kathy: In Jan 2021, in my new role as a Regional Childhood Coordinator through a short term Covid response Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) grant, I learned about 100% community through Elizabeth Ratzlaff and Billie Mathews from San Miguel County. As our work is all about collaboration, it came up in conversations.
Q: Who did you reach out to in your county to assess interest in the initiative?
Kathy: In the spring of 2021 I started asking people connected with early childhood, our local community health group and San Juan County Partnership. There had been some talk but nothing really started in San Juan County. I started sharing at Zoom meetings (Community Health Improvement Council, Kiwanis, Networking groups, local United Way, and in monthly emails to our contact lists).
Q: What has been the reaction of community members?
Kathy: The more I kept talking and sharing, the more interest I am getting. It wasn’t until Melissa Porch, with Connect Space (and a member of our local Childhaven board) suggested that we get started with an in-person meeting in Jan 2022 and donated a space to do so. We created a hybrid option and have so far held four meetings with new people every meeting.
Q: How have people responded to one of the books guiding the 100% New Mexico initiative, Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment?
Kathy: Yes, I’ve given out over 20 copies of Anna, Age Eight to other leaders in our community. I think this book reinforces the notion that for far too long we have put small “bandaids” on our problems thinking that would solve the issues. But it doesn’t. Until we can address the root causes, remove barriers and connect all our services, change really won’t happen systematically.
Q: As we emerge from the pandemic, why is ensuring ten vital services for surviving and thriving important?
Kathy: If you don’t have food security, transportation or a place to live, then finding and keeping a job is a challenge. Getting support for childcare, family services and health services can be daunting if they are spread out with uncoordinated services and options. It doesn’t have to stay this way.
Q: When you hear people say, “We are already doing that?” or “Just call 211” or “We already have services,” what do you say?
Kathy: We have many many wonderful services and committed people working very hard to provide them. However, a “silo” mentality exists for a variety of reasons and the people who most need help are often the ones that find the largest barriers in their way. When you have to walk your child to childcare and then walk to a job and you work hours different from your providers, how does that help?
Q: When might you be able to start the 100% New Mexico countywide survey of parents to assess access to services and barriers?
Kathy: First we have to take a survey of our existing surveys to see where the gaps are and how best to administer for the areas we need. There are other grants and organizations that have pieces to this puzzle and bringing everyone to the table to share is a first step.
Q: What inspires you to do this work?
Kathy: What excites me the most is that we are not starting this from scratch nor alone. The 100% New Mexico model is scientifically sound, based on data and a logic model that can provide results. We see it happening in other counties. Yet we also have the flexibility to adapt to what San Juan County’s needs are. It’s a win-win situation that just makes sense.