100% Otero and youth mentoring

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Over the past few months, 100% Otero has provided insight into how childhood trauma affects our children, families and communities. Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) can include violence, abuse, neglect, growing up in a family with mental health or substance abuse issues, incarceration, and parental separation or divorce. About 33% of youth ages 12 to 17 in New Mexico experienced 2 or more ACES, which is higher than the national average. Because toxic stress can affect our brain development and the way our bodies respond to stress, ACEs are linked to a variety of chronic health issues throughout life. However, ACEs can be avoided – and we can cushion the impact of ACESs through policies, standards and programs that support young people and families.

We all want our children to grow up safe and healthy, and we all want our children and families to thrive. 100% Otero is focused on ensuring all of our residents have access to ten essential services needed to survive and thrive! Survival services include medical / dental care, behavioral health care, food, shelter and transportation. Thriving services include parent support, early childhood learning, community schools, youth mentors, and job training. This month we are focusing on mentoring services in our community and the vital role they play in supporting youth and families.

As we all work together to reduce ACES and improve public health and economic stability, we use data from the Otero County 100% Investigation Report: Identifying Barriers to Vital Services, 2020. The survey was designed to identify barriers to the services that residents need. About 23% of survey participants said they needed youth mentoring services. Of those who needed services, 36% said they had difficulty accessing services. The most common responses regarding barriers were “programs / schools are closed to COVID”, “the program is not suitable for my child” and “I don’t know where to get this service”. Respondents from lone-parent households were the most likely to report needing mentoring services. Respondents who live in a tribal community or with an extended family were also more likely to report needing mentoring services.

National and local data shows that youth mentoring programs are vital support for families and help young people succeed in school and avoid health-risk behaviors. Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of central New Mexico reports that youth participating in the program (“Littles”) become more confident in schoolwork, strengthen family relationships, are less likely to miss school, and are less likely to miss school. likely to start consuming alcohol and other drugs. Adults and children participate in a wide range of activities and support is provided for in-person and virtual activities. Over the next few weeks, 100% Otero will be sharing a directory of youth mentoring services available across the county – we hope you use and share it!

Our youth mentoring team includes members of CYFD / Juvenile Probation, BBBS, Otero County Community Health Board, Mescalero Indian Health Services and Counseling Center. Our current priorities are to support our local mentoring programs, work with them to fill gaps in services, promote the benefits of mentoring programs, and reduce barriers to increase access. We also encourage our community to support local mentoring programs by volunteering to be a mentor. One of the BBBS mentors recently shared, “This will change your life, I guarantee it. It’s an hour a week, not a big time commitment, and I’ve never known anyone who regretted it. If you are passionate about it and it is important to you, they will feel it. You are not wasting your time when you spend it with a child who needs your help. Everywhere I go I talk to people about Big Brothers Big Sisters and some say, “Oh, I don’t have time”. You have the time, everyone has the time, and it is well worth it “- Tim Scott,” Big “with BBBS

For more information on BBBS in Otero County, please contact Brenda Dorsey at 575-708-0716. For more information on 100% Otero, visit https://www.annaageeight.org/nm-otero/

Carolyn Casillas is the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer for CYFD / JJS Twelfth Judicial District (Otero and Lincoln Counties). Holly Mata is a public health specialist and is currently chair of the Otero County Community Health Board.


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