U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
U.S. SENATE News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., introduced major legislation to help improve the health and education of New Mexico children by increasing access to federal education and anti-poverty programs.
The Saving Our Next Generation (SONG) Act is based on outreach and research Udall conducted during the last year, including workshops that brought together child care experts from across the state to discuss how the federal government can help lift New Mexico from the bottom of national rankings for children’s well-being.
“Every day across New Mexico, thousands of our children go to bed hungry. Many of these same kids have no structured child care and no way to see a doctor when they get sick. The reasons are complex and complicated, but they aren’t going to get better unless we all make it a priority to improve the state of child well-being in New Mexico. Not only is this crucial for our kids today, but it is a basic step to ensuring children escape the cycle of poverty and become healthy, productive workers,” Udall said.
“One major step is to make the investments that will help improve access to education and anti-poverty programs,” Udall continued. “That’s the purpose of the SONG Act, and I want to thank all of the community leaders and experts who contributed to writing this bill. By streamlining access and fully funding the most effective child well-being programs, the SONG Act will help ensure New Mexico children have the resources they need to grow up healthy and do well in school.”
While the SONG Act is oriented toward improving federal programs for children, Udall emphasized that outcomes won’t improve unless federal, state and local officials work together in partnership to improve New Mexico children’s well-being. Next week, in his annual speech to the New Mexico Legislature, Udall will discuss his bill and the need for a coordinated effort to improve child well-being.
The SONG Act calls for streamlining eligibility and fully funding programs that are proven to improve child well-being, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Head Start, school meal programs and housing assistance. Additionally, the SONG Act increases access to proven health and education services while calling on national leadership to assess steps that can be taken to further improve outcomes for the nation’s children.
Udall also is cosponsoring legislation that complements the SONG Act, including the reauthorization of CHIP; a bill that expands access to pre-kindergarten education programs; and the SMART Act, to examine the best ways to test for student progress. Udall continues to work on a number of other bills related to advancing science, technology and math (STEM) education; ensuring resources for schools to offer physical education; improving Indian education; and boosting graduation rates for all students.