Newly appointed Native American Early Education & Care assistant secretary outlines goals

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – People are learning more and more about the Native American boarding schools and its impact on communities.

But a new position at the state level aims to provide more language and cultural integration support to try and undo some of that damage.

Jovanna Archuleta is the nation’s first assistant secretary for Native American Early Childhood Education and Care.

“This position was specifically asked from the tribal leaders across our state,” said Archuleta.

The goal is to provide tribal leaders with consistent communication and make sure that the state is supporting each communities’ unique needs.

“There’s 23 tribes, Pueblos and nations in our state and every community is different in how they approach I think, prenatal to five, education and there’s different services that are provided across our state in their tribal communities," Archuleta said.

For example, some have head start and some don’t. Same with childcare. Archuleta’s goal?

“That we’re meeting their vision, their unique vision and mission when it comes to their prenatal to five population and how they want to educate and care for their children in their communities.

A mom herself, Archuleta said she didn’t pick the job as much as this role chose her.

"When I started out in the early education build, I was also expecting an infant, a baby at the time. And so really, we have learned together and everything that I’m doing in my own home, and everything I’m supporting and promoting in our department is what I’m doing with my you know child with my toddler at the time.”

She said it’s that experience as a single mother that gives her perspective about what families need.

“Stepping back 16 years ago, I was a young mother, so I went through the system I have been on both ends. I’ve been both in the system and also helping now to make any changes and ensure there’s equity in our system.”

With more resources, more access and the right foundation to help infants toddlers and their families thrive.

“Some of my goals are that we have a dedicated and consistent funding stream when it comes to tribal early childhood education and care,” said Archuleta.