Programs & Initiatives
Embracing Early Childhood Health
“Change the First Five Years and You Change Everything”
St. Joseph Community Health is responding to an alarm in New Mexico that represents one of the most urgent needs of our times – the need to give young children a healthy start. In 2009 Kids Count, a national reporting system, ranked New Mexico 43rd in children’s well being, based on 10 indicators: low birth weight, infant mortality, child mortality, teen death rate, teen birth rate, high school dropout rate, teens not working or in school, underemployed parents, children living in poverty, and children in single-parent families.
Every child in New Mexico needs a strong foundation if we hope to break the terrible cycle that exists today. Research has shown that early experiences determine whether a child’s developing brain architecture provides a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behavior and health – and 80% of the brain develops between ages 0 and 5 years. Half of the academic achievement gap evident in grade 12 can be attributed to gaps that already existed in first grade. This plays out with dropout rates of 53.8% in APS and 46% state-wide. And in 2006, the poverty rate for a high school dropout was twice the rate for a high school graduate – the cycle continues.
The challenges confronting vulnerable NM children are already evident in grade school. 41.8% of 3rd grade students do not read at grade level and 56.1% are not at expected math proficiency levels according to a 2008 report from the NM Public Education Department.
SJCH also recognizes that you cannot deal with a child in isolation. Positive experiences begin at home. Providing support and education to parents is critical, especially in NM where our teen birth rate is almost 50% higher than the national average and 68% of the births in NM do not meet the national standard for healthy births.
The health of our children is foundational and SJCH will work to make a difference by focusing on initiatives and programs that have proven to enhance positive development in the first 5 years of a child’s life. We want to provide the greatest opportunity for a child to develop into a healthy adult and SJCH will utilize evidence to improve outcomes in health for vulnerable children. By focusing on issues that impact young children, SJCH seeks to bring about systemic change – change that will be sustained over time and that will have a positive impact on the future health of our community.
We are excited about the future and hope that you will consider joining us by giving of your time, talent or treasure. Together we can make a fundamental and long-lasting change in the health of our community.