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Award Winner: NM Kids Need a Leg Up, Not Cut-backs

October 29, 2009

SANTA FE, NM. - While Governor Richardson mulls over a budget proposal that includes cuts to children's services in the state, a recently recognized leader in helping New Mexico families says now is no time to be scaling back.

Angie Vachio, founder of Peanut Butter and Jelly Family Services in Albuquerque (now better known as PB&J), and who was awarded the first-ever Patty Jennings Citizen Advocacy Award in a ceremony last week, says the state and communities have a role to play in keeping kids off drugs, out of trouble and on the path to success that starts in early childhood.

"From good preschools to really good early experiences in child care; just nourishing young families."

Programs that give parents the skills they need, starting at the time of the birth of their child, can be a big help, says Vachio. Some similar programs that are voluntary have been successful in New Mexico, but she'd like to see all families get the same leg up on parenting.

"Every newborn baby in New Mexico needs to be offered home-based visitation to help parents and help a healthy attachment and bonding between babies and their moms and dads."

Gov. Richardson has asked for input from the public on the budget proposal passed by lawmakers last week. While the budget does not include major cuts to K-12 education that had been threatened, it does make across-the-board cuts to many other public services affecting children in the state.

Vachio received the award at the New Mexico Voices for Children Spirit of Hope event. New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Petra Jimenez-Maes was also honored with the first annual Alice King Public Service Award.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM