Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

View Point: Local task force on kids’ issues pointing the way


January 27, 2015

We learned about two new reports about the state of our kids in the past couple weeks.

One led us to conclude that the kids are getting smarter about drinking, drugs and unprotected sex. The other showed some progress on some disturbing trends noted in the past, but showed we still have a long way to go, both in the county and in the state.

These reports are often followed by pronouncements of concern and calls to action from elected officials, but leave unanswered the question “Whose job is it?”

In the county, the ultimate answer to many of the problems aired in these reports is to build up industries that create jobs with growth potential to give people a sense of hope and purpose. Our performance in these areas locally and statewide, not to mention nationally, has been dismal.

We've managed to create growth on paper while leaving our workforce behind.

In the meantime, what do we do to help our kids stay away from destructive attitudes and behaviors?

As a result of the county's poor showing in previous surveys, it acquired a home visitation program through the Children, Youth and Families Department for parents of young children and parents to be.

The trained coaches in this program can help guide parents to resources that can help them achieve goals for their children while keeping them safe, healthy and secure.

A home-grown response, however, is even more encouraging. In Quay County, our District Attorney Tim Rose started a multi-agency task force that includes educators, law enforcement officers, and representatives of social service agencies to deal with some of these issues.

They meet on a regular basis to discuss mutual interests involving children's issues and then get down to individual cases.

Aaron McKinney, superintendent of Tucumcari Schools, says the task force has resulted in more support in fighting truancy than the district has ever seen before.

Police, too, say the task force is helpful when dealing with cases of possible child abuse.

This task force, we think, is pointing the way for the rest of the state in dealing with issues related to the health and welfare of our kids.

New Mexico and Quay County are likely to remain poor for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean we have to teach our kids the ways of despair.

Strategies like the youth task force in Quay County show parents and kids that someone is willing to go some extra distance to make sure children stay safe, healthy and hopeful.


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