What if outcomes for kinship care children & families could improve thru exploration & play coupled with information & community support?

Photo of Mikki Anaya
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

The inspiration for this project has its origin in a policy-change advocacy campaign, "Invest in Kids Now", in which a number of New Mexico non-profit organizations have joined. Although the Invest in Kids Now campaign focuses on Early Childhood Education, it brings to the forefront the underlying causes such as childhood hunger, poverty and poor educational outcomes, which result in New Mexico's children falling to the bottom of all success-related indicators. Census Bureau data finds that kinship caregivers are more likely to be poor, single, older, less educated, and unemployed. SOURCE: Population Reference Bureau’s analysis of 2011 Annual Social and Economic Survey. Kinship care children and families represent the most vulnerable of our community and as such, attention needs to be placed on how the community can join together to provide meaningful and life-changing support to our kinship families. The Santa Fe Children's Museum, through its programming, its relationships with various and diverse community organizations, and because of its facility, has the potential to bring community together to provide interactive, facilitated play for guardians and children. In addition to the play component, through partnerships within the community, scheduled workshops, and information dissemination, the Santa Fe Children's Musuem's GrandFamilies program has a tremendous opportunity for success ~ with success measured by progress made toward improving the outcomes.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)
  • Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)
  • Native American or Alaska Native (for example: Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, Mayan, Aztec, Native Village of Barrow Inupial Traditional Government, Nome Eskimo Community)
  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New Mexico

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Santa Fe

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • New Mexico

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

The cities of Santa Fe, Española, and Las Vegas. The rural areas of Santa Fe County, Rio Arriba County and San Miguel County. Tribal communities as follows: Kewa Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and Pojoaque Pueblo.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In 2015, Annie E Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT found 48% of children below age six in Santa Fe County are in the care of grandparents. In Rio Ariba County, it increases to 53%. GrandFamilies have unique needs and challenges different than "traditional" families. These include issues of guardianship, obtaining public benefits, and behavioral health issues, etc. These children may also be at greater risk for educational and social failure. The numbers are great & the need for support of GrandFamilies is mostly unmet, thus the SFCM has targeted this issue. The reasons why children in kinship care are at greater risk for failure is multifaceted. The Santa Fe Children's Museum GrandFamilies project recognizes that the building of strong families, which have access to community support and resources, is a positive agent for change to improve the outcomes for kinship families.

The solution is to support the building of strong families, particularly among those families with challenges and who find themselves in situations where their success outcome is not certain . 

Families are at the core of ensuring that children grow up feeling safe, loved and honored. All of this assures that children will grow up with a strong sense of who they are in the world. Furthermore, strong families provide the springboard to position children to move through the world feeling they can in fact be successful in all they take on.

The SFCM’s GrandFamilies program will address guardians’ needs for information, resources and support. In addition the SFCM’s GrandFamilies program will provide children in kinship care with play and learning activities geared towards helping improve their educational outcomes.

In addition to addressing needs of GrandFamilies, there is a need for the community to step-up. It benefits the community to help raise children who succeed. SFCM is uniquely positioned to bring much needed attention to the issue of kinship care, the challenges faced by these families and opportunities for health equity communities can provide. By raising the level of awareness to the issue and needs, policy at local and state levels and support for resources for GrandFamilies can be generated.  

SFCM’s GrandFamilies program will provide information to guardians addressing social-economic determinants of health including access to health resources and to resources which help alleviate poverty. Simultaneously to working with guardians, the SFCM GrandFamilies program will provide play/learning activities for children in kinship care which support educational attainment.  

Furthermore, the vast majority of GrandFamilies are households representing underserved, racially and ethnically diverse populations. Because many of these families reside outside of the city limits, access to the program by rural and underserved communities is addressed in the design of the program.

With regard to systems change for health in New Mexico, a collateral effect of the SFCM GrandFamilies program is to raise the awareness to the number of children in kinship care in New Mexico and how, through the leveraging of community resources, investment by the community can make a positive difference in the health outcomes for these families and their children.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Mental Health
  • Other

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Financial literacy, legal guardianship and advocacy.

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

SFCM’s GrandFamilies program will take place twice a month for twelve months. GrandFamilies session will last 3 hours. The first hour will be facilitated play/learning activities developed for guardians and children ages 2 to 6. During play/learning sessions, families will move between different ‘stations’ where they will be taught through play about reading and the language arts, math, health and nutrition, arts, music & science. The remaining two hours will have children in facilitated play with peers supervised by therapists while guardians attend informational sessions with presenters of community services. Because a goal is that families reach out for assistance, follow-up appointments with community resources will be encouraged.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

There are currently no measurements for the impact the Santa Fe Children's Museum has had on the children who pass through our doors. For the GrandFamilies project, three metrics will be measured: number of families served; number of resources accessed by participants; and whether outcomes for children and families improved. The first two are simple to measure. The third will take a post-program, long-term view to assess. The projected impact of the SFCM GrandFamilies project will be that the challenges GrandFamilies were dealing with, (i.e. legal guardianship, financial hardship), are no longer issues; guardians observe a positive change in behavior, in their parenting behavior & the behavior of their children; there is a positive improvement in the child’s performance in school seen in their attendance and grades; & GrandFamilies in poverty are lifted to financial security.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $500k - $1m

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Following an analysis of the SFCM GrandFamilies program outcomes, including families served and resources accessed by participants, we believe that additional grant funding and local and state resources can be found to continue and expand the program. Early childhood intervention is an initiative being expanded by the New Mexico legislature and we would pursue funding under those programs.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Many of the organizations and agencies, both public and private, we hope to include in this program address some aspect of this issue. We are proposing to be the consolidator of these disconnected pieces and engage both the caregiver and child in a focused program that brings it to them in one place and addresses the myriad of needs in a "user friendly" format.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

The most promising shift in advancing children's wellbeing is the recognition that a wholistic approach is necessary to give a child the greatest chance for success. Early intervention models are often too narrowly focused or don't have the resources to enlist a comprehensive approach. Another promising shift is the recognition that families play a critical role in advancing children's wellbeing. Building strong families, supporting them to work through the issues of poverty and to secure adequate healthcare & education for the children in their care will advance child wellbeing.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

PND News Alerts

Program Design Clarity

Benefiting from the SFCM GrandFamilies Project are the guardians and children in kinship care situations. This group is generally low-income, elder, with representation from our immigrant, Tribal and rural communities. SFCM’s GrandFamilies program will take place twice a month for twelve months. GrandFamilies session will last 3 hours. The first hour will be facilitated play/learning activities for guardians and children ages 2 to 6. Children will continue their play with peers and play/art therapists. Guardians will attend sessions addressing legal, financial, educational & healthcare issues.

Community Leadership

The SFCM GrandFamilies program is a template which will be replicated to address additional needs of the children in our community. Next we will address children with autism. The Santa Fe Children's Museum will be convening "Child Central", the children's table to which all professions having an impact on the lives of our children will be invited. These include educators, service providers, care givers and policymakers.

Age of Children Impacted

  • Pregnancy - 0
  • 0-1.5
  • 1.5 -3
  • 3 - 5

Spread Strategies

The core of our strategy is to have a clear direction and goal for our collective impact. The next components in our strategy are inclusion and community partnerships, engaging partners beyond our immediate community. Next is consistent coordination of, & communication with our partners, serving as a central hub to drive the work to attain the identified goal. Key connections in this are parents, providers, youth & lawmakers.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

Our model is based on the idea that strong families create strong children. Children in kinship care already face challenges "traditional" families do not face. By helping the family address legal, financial, health, (physical & emotional), and educational issues, the goal is to create a home environment where children feel secure, nurtured and where their needs are met. This helps to cultivate a positive sense of self, belonging and purpose.

Leadership Story

For over ten years I have been building and coordinating networks comprised of various non-profit organizations. The networks are brought together for the purpose of collective impact in the policy-change arena. Network members represent the most under-served communities and we have addressed issues as diverse as immigrant rights, environmental protections and predatory lending. I have seen that when one changes policy, many lives are changed. Because child wellbeing in New Mexico consistently ranks at the bottom, I have turned my attention & skills as a coordinator to address this situation.

What awards or honors has the project received? (Optional)

The program has not yet been implemented.

Organization's Twitter Handle


Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

LinkedIn Profile not in place.

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Christy Beighe-Byrne

The statistics on grandparents raising grandchildren are staggering! I can see why an initiative to bridge the generational gap is needed in your community. From what I read I understand that the Museum seeks to offer community workshops that engage children while at the same time offering a support group to the grandparents. I would encourage more Grandparent/Child engagement, teaching the grandparent to work with their grandchild on projects. I would suggest that this author proofread his submission and fix the grammatical mistakes throughout the proposal as well.