U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
announced today that a New Mexico non-profit organization and the City of Albuquerque are receiving a combined $28 million in federal grant money for children's Head Start education in the state. This comes as New Mexico was recently ranked 50th in the nation in overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book. HELP-New Mexico, Inc., a community-based organization with 40 offices and/or Head Start and Pre-K Centers throughout New Mexico, will receive $3,153,352 a year for the next five years, totaling more than $15 million, to continue their Head Start and Early Head Start projects. It has provided services to more than 816,000 individuals and families throughout its 47-year history. The City of Albuquerque will also receive $2,661,617 a year for the next five years, totaling more than $13.3 million, for its Head Start projects for educational, nutritional, health, social and other services to low-income families. "We must invest in programs that pull New Mexico out of its unacceptable ranking at the bottom of children's well-being and I am glad to see such significant resources go towards this effort," Udall said. "I have been a longtime advocate for Head Start and early childhood intervention and this funding will help our partners on the ground continue this important work for New Mexico families." Head Start was started as a federal program to help preschool-age children prepare for school by enhancing their cognitive, social and emotional development. Many Head Start programs also provide Early Head Start to serve infants, toddlers and pregnant women. Both programs serve families who have incomes below the federal poverty level. "HELP-New Mexico is very proud to be one of the first Head Start funded entities in the country and the first in New Mexico to be granted a '5-year no competition' grant. This is only granted to Head Start programs that have excellent performance outcomes for children and excellent agency fiscal management," said John Martinez, Executive Director of HELP-New Mexico. "We are also very proud of the fact that even with the sequestration budget cuts, we continue to serve the same number of Head Start children, expectant mothers, infant and toddlers. The need is great for low-income children and families in our state and we are thankful for Senator Udall's continued support." The funding is being awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).