The Anna, Age Eight Institute, which is housed at New Mexico State University, works to ensure New Mexico families have what they need to prevent trauma and succeed in future endeavors. Co-Directors Katherine Ortega Courtney (left) and Dominic Cappello lead the institute. | Photo courtesy NMSU

Anna, Age Eight surveys for barriers in state’s vital services

In July 2020, New Mexico State University welcomed the Anna, Age Eight Institute, an organization that ensures New Mexico families have what they need to prevent trauma and succeed in future endeavors.

Since then, the organization, which uses data-driven processes to build the capacity of local county governments in an attempt to strengthen health, safety and resilience has conducted several surveys about available resources in the state.

“The initiative is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in every community, through a process of turning science into real world solutions,” said Katherine Ortega Courtney, Anna, Age Eight co-director.

Anna, Age Eight is housed within NMSU’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, which allows the institute to work with NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.

In 2020 and 2021, Anna, Age Eight conducted several surveys disbursed throughout the state of New Mexico. The Anna, Age Eight Institute partnered with the NMSU Center for Community Analysis to distribute and analyze the surveys. These surveys collected information evaluating the need and barriers to vital services from Dona Ana County, Otero County, Socorro County, and Rio Arriba County. The 10 vital services for striving and surviving include: medical care; behavioral health care; food security programs; housing security programs; transportation to vital services; parent supports, including resources for home-visiting and child-care; early childhood education; fully resourced community schools with medical and behavioral health centers; youth mentors; and job training.

“The reports signify a commitment on the part of initiative participants, including nine counties in New Mexico, to use a data-driven and collaborative process to ensure that vital services meet the needs of 100 percent of county residents,” Courtney said. “This result focused strategy is a long-term commitment to rural and urban New Mexicans, creating a new standard of care and quality of life.”

The survey reports found that throughout the counties surveyed, there are consistent barriers for residents trying to access vital services. This includes difficulty to find affordable housing in all counties. Barriers to services dedicated to health and survival, such as medical services, vary from each county. Each report described the barriers to the 10 vital services that residents need to ensure the safety of households, effective schools and to prevent adverse childhood experiences and trauma.

“Specific barriers to these services vary by county and local analysis is vital,” Courtney said.

To combat these challenges, the information collected will guide the work done by the 100 percent New Mexico Initiative from each county. Ten teams, each team focused on one of the vital services, will analysis the data provided and develop plans to remove the found barriers. This will be done using a process called the continuous quality improvement, a process focused on resolving the needs of a community. Each team will be focused on health, racial equity and health disparities.

“A challenge for every state is that there is no local entity with the mission and funding to identify and prevent barriers to vital services,” Courtney said. “The 100 percent New Mexico Initiative is a first of its kind strategy, empowering city, and county governments to take a leadership role in replacing barriers with opportunities for access.”

For more information about the Anna, Age Eight Institute visit their webpage.

Author: Nicole E. Drake – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today