So how are the youngest children in Santa Fe doing? Are they receiving the nurturing and stimulating support they require to thrive? According to the new Baseline Report released with focus on Early Childhood, the current reality tells a mixed story. While progress is being made in some areas, significant work still remains when it comes to improving birth outcomes and ensuring that children are ready for kindergarten.
Over the past year, many involved in early childhood care and education have discussed what would be appropriate outcomes and indicators that measure early childhood success including through the Early Childhood Steering Committee, the Early Childhood Indicator Project of the Santa Fe Baby Fund, the Santa Fe Birth to Career Collaboration, and the Early Childhood Sub-Committee of the Mayor's Children, Youth and Families Community Cabinet. These discussions led to consensus resulting in three key outcomes measured by six priority indicators. The Baseline Report discusses each outcome and indicator in detail. Here is the summary.
Low birthweight babies. Santa Fe has a higher rate of low birth weight babies compared to state and national averages. In 2013, 9.9% or 129 babies were born at low birth weight in Santa Fe. Learn More
Women receiving prenatal care. While Santa Fe County's rate of early prenatal care has been higher than that of the state, the recent trend is worsening. Approximately 25% or over 300 pregnant mothers in Santa Fe did not receive prenatal care during the first trimester in 2013. Learn More
Children ages 0-4 meeting social, emotional, cognitive, language and physical development milestones. We do not know if children 0 to 4 in Santa Fe are meeting their developmental milestones. About 25% are screened through early childhood programs using ASQ-3 or a similar tool. However, there is limited tracking and reporting of data on these screening results and referral follow-ups (with the exception of CYFD-funded Home Visiting programs and within federal Head Start programs). Learn More
Substantiated child abuse and neglect cases for children under 5. Any instance of child abuse and neglect is too many. Santa Fe's rate of substantiated child abuse and neglect is lower than the New Mexico state average. However, in the past year, the rate has increased substantially. There were approximately 20 per 1,000 children or 138 total substantiated child abuse and neglect cases in 2015.
% of 4-year olds attending PreK or Head Start. According to a Pew Center report, children who attend high-quality PreK programs do better in school from the first day of kindergarten through their postsecondary years. Free tuition and high standards (compared to basic licensing requirements) make NM PreK and Head Start primary options for low income families looking for quality, affordable early childhood education in Santa Fe. Through rapid expansion in PreK capacity over the past few years, approximately half or 733 four-year olds are currently attending NM PreK or Head Start programs in Santa Fe. Learn More
% of children who are ready for kindergarten. According to DIBELS First Sound Fluency assessment (a proxy indicator), only about 54% of students entering kindergarten in Santa Fe currently meet the early literacy benchmark. State PreK results using Early Learning Guidelines show a more promising picture for students who participate in the program. 76% of the Santa Fe County PreK students met the literacy benchmark by the end of the PreK program in 2014-2015. The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) is in the process of implementing a "Kindergarten Observation Tool" (KOT) as a Kindergarten Entrance Assessment (KEA). Learn More
For more information, read the current draft of the Santa Fe Community Baseline Report 2015.