ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico Kids Matter announced it received a $25,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative. The grant will support New Mexico Kids Matter’s Successful Transitions and Adulthood Readiness (STAR) Program, which works to prepare teen foster youth for their transition out of foster care and into healthy and safe adulthood and independent living situations.
Studies have shown youth who spent their teenage years in foster care and/or aged out of the foster care system suffered significant challenges as adults in the areas of mental health, education, employment and finances. Without intervention, these youth have a higher likelihood of violence, homelessness, incarceration and poverty in their adult lives. The goal of the STAR program is to address these issues for youth and young adults in the community who are or will soon age out of the foster care system. New Mexico Kids Matter works to ensure these children develop lifelong permanent connections with supportive adults and can secure safe housing, health care, education and employment after their transition out of foster care.
“We are so thankful for BCBSNM’s continued support of our STAR program through the Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant program,” said Veronica Montano-Pilch, New Mexico Kids Matter’s executive director. “This grant will help us continue to work to ensure that those aging out of foster care receive the support they need to navigate the transition so they can enjoy safe, healthy and thriving lives after foster care.”
“New Mexico Kids Matter’s STAR program addresses many social determinants of health that can lead to health disparities for an already vulnerable population,” said Janice Torrez, BCBSNM president. “By working directly with foster youth on issues such as economic stability and access to fundamental resources, the STAR program is helping close the gaps in health equity and makes a difference in the lives of our fellow New Mexicans.”
BCBSNM’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant initiative is part of an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs in nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management and supporting safe environments. New Mexico Kids Matter’s commitment to advocating for the best interests and well-being of children in foster care aligns with the vision of Healthy Kids, Healthy Families to improve the health of children and their families across New Mexico.
About New Mexico Kids Matter
New Mexico Kids Matter advocates for abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Our mission is to promote and protect the best interests of children in foster care by providing advocacy and support services to ensure these children can live in safe and stable environments, can heal from the trauma they have experienced, and are able to thrive as they grow. We believe every child in foster care deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their safety, wellbeing, and best interests in court, at school, and in our community and to accomplish this, we recruit, train, supervise, and provide professional staff support to community volunteers who serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for children in foster care. When the state steps in to protect a child's safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints one of our trained CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interests of the child in our overburdened child welfare system.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico is one of the largest commercial health insurers in New Mexico with more than 680,000 New Mexicans carrying a Blue Cross and Blue Shield card. Since 1940, BCBSNM has been committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSNM is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, the country’s largest customer-owned health insurer and fourth largest health insurer overall. Health Care Service Corporation is a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.