Editor's Note: This is part 7 of a multi-part series of articles on the Prospectors' Legislative Communication Forum, held Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, at Western New Mexico University's Light Hall. This article will begin to cover the non-profit/community presentations.

Bruce Ashburn, Prospectors president, served as the moderator in front of Sen. Howie Morales, Rep. Dianne Hamilton and Rep. John Zimmerman.

Terry Anderson and Maria Elena Jaurequi-Cross presented for the Community Partnership for Children

"I am the project coordinator for the community partnership, which has been in existence since 2004," Anderson said. "We promote excellence in the care and development of young children.

"We have a barrier," she said. "We need a part-time position and have a need for a part-time office. The organization is doing a shared services program. It's a pilot program to help child care providers keep their doors open."

She said it's a national initiative that just started in New Mexico. The New Mexico Association of Education of Young Children meets monthly with these groups. The Grant County community early-care learning network for kids is a part of it.

"Childcare is not aggregated," Anderson said. "We want funding for data collection to put together a plan to collect data for CYFD. We will build a template to support CYFD data collection.

"Early education is extremely important," she said. "Child-care organizations are taking care of a large number of our children. We could set the model in Grant County for a statewide program."

"The WNMU Early Childhood Program has always been well thought of," Morales said. "With this shared services, you are taking away the tasks of overhead?"

"We are deciding how child-care providers want to work together," Anderson replied. "They are varied. We have faith-based, Western, Cobre, and Growing Tree, in addition to private providers. We are trying to develop a working relationship among them.

"What you're saying is part of the program," she said. "Some of the discussion is on substitutes, maintenance, food programs. We haven't quite reached our common goal. This is the second leg of the program. We need to collect the data across the state on child care."

"How much are you asking for?" Morales asked.

"No more than $20,000 for keeping the group together," Anderson said.

"Do you have a fiscal agent?" Morales asked.

"Priscilla (Lucero, Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments executive director) and the COG," Anderson said. "We thought we could do this through a 501c3, but it has to be through an agency,"

Morales said the group needs to know the market value for collecting the data. "Maybe you need to visit with CYFD to get support, but it's a little late in the game. You need draft language."

"The collecting data idea came through the national organization on shared services" Anderson said. "The state was told the organization would help the state move ahead."

"Terry, you have received awards," Hamilton said. "My granddaughter has just gone to work for CYFD. It's a tough job, but it's better to deal with the problems before they start."

Anderson agreed.

Grant County Community Health Council Coordinator Cari Lemon presented for the council.

"I'm the new coordinator, and I express my sincere gratitude for your presence," Lemon said. "I have three topics, the first of which is to introduce myself to you.

"The second is to give you an update on the transition movement from Gila Regional," she continued. "The council is now under Grant County."

"Third, this transition brings reality," she said. "There were two full-time staff members and two part-time ones. The number is now one—me. I will be pursuing other funding.

"The New Mexico Alliance of Health Council will sponsor a bill to increase funding for health councils across the state," Lemon said.

"We are continuing to move forward, partnering with the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Council, with coordinator Razanna Thomas, who is an employee of Silver City, to fund a community youth center," she said.

"I was not aware you didn't have a community youth center," Zimmerman said.

Morales said he would carry the bill again. "I know both representatives support funding for health councils."

"The bill is asking for $1 million," Morales noted. "Grant County still has an active health council, but others in the state didn't pull their weight. I think the bill will be endorsed by Health and Human Services."

"I would be happy to be the House representative on the bill," Zimmerman said.

LifeQuest Executive Director Debra Frasca was the next presenter.

"I am the new CEO of LifeQuest, taking Evangeline Zamora's place upon her retirement," Frasca said. "This is Cynthia Nañez, our program manager.

"Thank you for your support of the past years," Frasca said. "We serve adults and children at risk for disabilities. We lag far behind in sustainability. LifeQuest has made dramatic changes. We have eliminated programs and laid off 40 employees. It's important we get a raise in appropriation.

"The reimbursement rates have not changed since the early 1990s," she said. "We have provided services for over 43 years. We are asking for $5 million for the DD Waiver and FIT (family, infants and toddlers)."

"We need assistance in raising the reimbursement rates," Nañez said. "We can bill for one hour per visit, not for time spent on travel or talking to doctors.

"We have the only program for early intervention— the only one for age birth to three years of age," Nañez continued. "A child may have a 25 percent development delay. We need help to make a difference. It is not a child-care program, but for those with environmental risk factors, such as drugs and abuse."

"If we could have an increase in time to be billed, from one hour to two or three hours, it would help," Frasca said.

"My daughter is a home-health nurse, Zimmerman said. "They don't give her many billable hours either."

Frasca said often the providers go 2 to 3 hours just in travel time.

"I was invited once to a breakfast of mothers and children," Hamilton said. "They were telling stories about the birth to three years of age program and how they kept them out of remedial work."

"Congratulations to you, Debra, and thanks to Evangeline for her years of service," Morales said. "I put in for $600,000 last year. You're not going to get to the $5 million mark. I hope we can add a little this year. You do a wonderful job. It's important to me because you advocate for people who don't have a voice. You don't have a high paid lobbyist."

"Lives have been changed because of our services," Frasca said. "We are proud of the work we do."

Morales asked what percentage is from Medicaid.

"The DD Waiver is Medicaid," Frasca replied. "FIT is part Medicaid and part state funding."

"Those being served by Medicaid—the elderly, the disabled, and children at risk, for every dollar we cut in Medicaid, we lose three dollars for communities," Morales said.

Zimmerman commented that the hardest part of the job is not being able to do everything.

Silver City Arts and Cultural District and Tourism, Lee Gruber, acting manager, spoke next.

"I'm the president of the Arts and Cultural District board," Gruber said. "We became our own 501c3. We are the first arts and cultural district to become a 501c3, because of support from Silver City to drive tourism to Grant County and Silver City. The ACD works with Tourism, Economic Development, Arts and MainStreet on the state level.

"The creative economy is not a new idea," Gruber said. "We like to think that we can drive the economy by the arts and culture. It's a place-based economy. The ACD includes libraries, museums, and the council of governments. We talk once a month about collaborative efforts.

"Our signature event is the Clay Festival," Gruber said." It's a way to connect different parts of the community. We are putting forth a continuation of efforts. The Arts and Cultural District started in 2008. The McCune Foundation put out $18,000 and said: 'Go forth.' We are working toward sustainability."

Hamilton said she "was terribly impressed with the New Mexico Magazine May article."

"More than 3,000 people came to Silver City for clay-related events," Gruber said. "We want to take it statewide and involve Mexico."

Morales noted the Department of Tourism often highlights New Mexico True and Silver City is talked about. "How much are you asking for?"

"We would like $12,500 from New Mexico Tourism," Gruber replied. "Lots of grant writing goes on."

Zimmerman said he is reminded of all the festivals in Silver City.

The last two articles will cover presentations by non-profits and community groups.