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8 Northern Pueblos & LANL Foundation Deepen Focus on Early Childhood

Above from left: Monica Vigil (Nambe Pueblo), Darren Stand (San Ildefonso Pueblo), Jovanna Archuleta (LANL Foundation), April Winters (Taos Pueblo), Jeffrey Atencio (Picuris Pueblo), Beverly Fierro (Pojoaque Pueblo), RJ Martinez (LANL Foundation), Mina Harvier (Santa Clara Pueblo), Anna Marie Garcia (LANL Foundation), Veronica Martinez (Tesuque Pueblo) and Matthew Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh).

LANL Foundation & Eight Northern Pueblos Attend National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting

The LANL Foundation’s Early Childhood staff, along with representatives from the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos, recently attended the National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting in Washington, D.C. 

The conference was held on January 30 through February 1, 2019, and was hosted by the Ounce of Prevention Fund, an organization that serves children living in America—particularly those born into poverty—so that they have quality early childhood experiences in the crucial first five years of life.

More than 100 speakers who are experts in their field focused on in-depth topics related to home visiting and growing networks. There were 800 attendees from across the nation and other countries.

Home visiting programs are designed to support parents from all backgrounds, answer questions and provide guidance on issues such as maternal and child health, positive parenting, child development and growth, safe home environments, and school readiness. As described by April Winters of Taos Pueblo, “parents are given the tools to be the best teachers for their children.”

The LANL Foundation’s early childhood partnership with the Pueblos started in 2016 with expressed interest from the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council (ENIPC). The Pueblo Outreach Project, an 18-month collaboration funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, began in 2017 to assess and map family services within each Pueblo, provide training for parents and caregivers, strengthen current programs and plan for unmet needs. In addition to a focus on home visiting, some of the other community priorities include native language programs, traditional farming and nutrition, engagement with elders, understanding and prevention of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and support for overall health and wellbeing to build resilient children, families and communities.

The diverse sessions at the summit allowed the LANL Foundation and Pueblo team to continue to learn about best practices in early childhood development and family support programs. The concept of “precision” home visiting was introduced as a higher level of customized service that aligns the elements of traditional home visiting with relevant family characteristics including parents’ psycho-social wellbeing, readiness for behavior change, comfort with forming trusting relationships and reflective capacity. Such theory- and evidence-based variations in education and support strategies can broaden and strengthen impacts on positive outcomes across diverse families.

Anna Marie Garcia, LANL Foundation early childhood director, reflecting on the summit said, “Evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that experiences from birth through the preschool years are critical to children’s development. Understanding the significance of alignment and integration of multiple systems is critical supporting early childhood development—parenting, health, mental health, early learning, family support, and cultural relevancy. Equity is the foundation of home visiting.”

Additionally, Matthew Martinez, former Lt. Governor of Ohkay Owingeh, related his experiences as a first-time conference attendee to the work of the LANL Foundation. “I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about home visiting programs from a national perspective. The attendees and organizations represented were clearly enthusiastic about the work being done to support early infant and childhood years. I also gathered that a lot of the models presented and organizations reflected urban-based populations with little to no connection to communities of color. This, I believe, is the intervention of LANL Foundation’s Pueblo Outreach Project to be carved out. We have an opportunity to learn from national best practices and tailor them to meet our specific geographical and cultural needs of Northern New Mexico and the Eight Northern Pueblos.”

The information gained through the conference provides tools that will be utilized to start new and enrich existing family support services in the Pueblos. The learning opportunities will also help to inform the creation of a comprehensive home visiting program within the Pueblos and bring more tribal voices to the New Mexico Home Visiting Collaborative, a group of key stakeholders from throughout the state working to support the existence of a well-funded, consistent, exemplary home visiting system as an integral part of the continuum of care for young children.

Through the Pueblo Outreach Project partnership, team members have understood tha postive parenting begins before birth, and a fetus experiences the mother’s life while in the womb. Therefore, promotion of health within a family must start before a child is born. The Pueblos see value in home visiting because it begins prenatally and can be culturally tailored and traditionally grounded to create positive impacts now and for future generations.

“It is so important to support our mothers and fathers as they are caring for our future,” said Monica Vigil of Nambe Pueblo. “The cycle of hope will continue with healthy babies, healthy children, healthy adults, and healthy parents.”

Legislative assistant Heidi Todacheene (center) with the early childhood team from New Mexico.

While in Washington, D.C. the group also stopped by the office of U.S. Congresswoman Deb Haaland to discuss the importance of early childhood programs especially within Native communities. Congresswoman Haaland was called back to New Mexico for work, but the team was able to meet with legislative assistant Heidi Todacheene to voice concerns and ideas.

LANL Foundation will continue its partnership and work with the Pueblos through phase II implementation of the Pueblo Outreach Project focused on program development.

LANL Foundation’s Early Childhood Coordinator RJ Martinez, Program Director Anna Marie Garcia and Pueblo Outreach Coordinator Jovanna Archuleta