Kids First is an innovative initiative to support the mental and physical health of Peñasco area families. This Holy Cross Hospital-sponsored program, funded by the Kresge Foundation, is aimed at reducing Parenting Stress to minimize the Adverse Childhood Experiences that can lead to chronic disease.
A social worker integrated into Holy Cross’s Peñasco clinic coordinates with clinical staff to identify and refer patients to vital community services. Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers are connected to services ranging from substance abuse, domestic violence, and mental health counseling, to WIC and other benefits. Providers from Taos coordinate at the school-based Nurturing Center to bring services “over the mountain” to Peñasco.
Nurturing Parenting classes at the Peñasco Elementary School provide caregivers with parenting skills and both caregivers and children engage in activities designed to support emotional wellbeing and safety for children. Classes are facilitated by Kids First Staff and volunteer community partners from a variety of social service and behavioral health agencies.
In partnership with Los Brazos After School Program and the Peñasco Elementary School, Kids First also hosts a series of popular events at the school on themes ranging from Anti-Bullying, Anti-Violence and Nurturing Relationships to How to Beat the Holiday Blues. Children perform skits on the topic, a keynote speaker emphasizes themes, and dinner is provided.
Events have been attended by up to 300 people in this small mountain town, fostering a tangible sense of community and positive support for the health and wellbeing of kids.