An alarming study published by New Mexico Voices for Children recently revealed that New Mexico has the highest rate of child poverty in the nation. Of children residing within Santa Fe County, nearly 34% live below the poverty line, 57% do not attend preschool programs, 75% wont be proficient in reading by the time they reach the 4th grade, and 15% will be reported as victims of child abuse.
This data poses a real challenge to the children of our community and we find our work more relevant than ever. At the Santa Fe Children's Museum we believe it takes a village to raise a child and are launching a range of community-focused projects this year to help address the lack of support for at-risk youth.
We've recently created a project benefiting a particularly vulnerable group in our community; the 80-100 children taken into short and long-term custody by the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) each year. Through two outlets, this program ensures free access to the Santa Fe Children's Museum and all of its supplemental programing for these at-risk children and their caregivers.
The first outlet is through a Business Membership to be used by CYFD staff who are housing children on-site when they don't have foster placements or are pending investigations of abuse and neglect. The membership is valid for one year and provides an unlimited number of visits for an unlimited number of children and CYFD staff. This will allow the children in custody to leave the CYFD setting and visit the museum where they can engage in normal child behaviors in a supportive setting focused on creativity and play.
The second outlet is through family passes to be distributed by CYFD to foster families. Each pass will allow the foster family free admission to the museum for the day. This is a valuable option for foster families because CYFD is unable to provide reimbursements for expenses such as museum admissions.
Funded by Santa Fe, NM (January 2017)