Avenues Early Childhood Services (AECS) has been unwavering in its commitment to its patrons and partners in the face of mounting challenges due to the current pandemic. For five years now, Avenues has grown in its mission to foster well-being and connect families to the latest culturally sensitive, research-based information and resources that support successful parenting. Working hard over the last several months to maintain seamless services for its families, the staff has transitioned interactions to phone and video, in addition to identifying new, creative ways to provide families with what they need to manage during these extraordinarily difficult times.
Through it all though, Co-founders Priya Sudarsanam and Regina Huffman, also a licensed mental health counselor, have maintained hope that is evident and beneficial to all of the families that rely on Avenues and has fortified the relationships on which Avenues was built in 2015. All employees of AECS are trauma informed specialists and are working toward infant mental health endorsement with the state. Although the pandemic has increased challenges for those addressing misuse or managing recovery, Avenues has remained steadfast in its efforts to instill hope among its families and use today’s realities as an opportunity to encourage its patrons to take account of their lives and use this time to make some healthy life changes.
On October 22, leading up to National Prescription Drug Takeback Day, Avenues led a food distribution project for families in partnership with Northwest New Mexico First born and Somos Unidos. Through this effort, Avenues was able to provide much need relief in the face of so many challenges due to COVID-19. At the event, 250 boxes of food and other essentials as well as safe disposal bags were distributed.
With the support of RALI New Mexico, Avenues has also been about to extend the principles of their child and family focused mission to their community through the following efforts:
Incentive items for families to make important appointments as well as for participation in our program (e.g. doctors, home visits, counseling) such as gas cards, grocery cards;
Group trainings with other partner organizations in the community (collaboration with guest speakers who specialize in addiction to come to community to offer trainings);
Additional counseling services based on needs of the families; and
Books and toys to provide to families for their children to focus on attachment and bonding during home visits.