Monique Jacobson may have completed her tenure as cabinet secretary for the state Children, Youth and Families Department, but her commitment to children continues.
She has taken a position as a strategic project consultant with Las Cumbres Community Services on their Santuario del Corazon project.
Funded with a $307,000 federal grant, the project provides services to children “who are experiencing trauma as a result of the immigration process, specifically unaccompanied immigrant children or children who have been separated from their families,” she told the Journal in an interview.
Las Cumbres is the primary resource in northern New Mexico for information and support of children and adults with developmental disabilities, and mental health, social and emotional challenges.
“We will be working with children who are currently living in New Mexico, as well as developing a better understanding of what is happening to children at the border and within our region.”
Jacobson said she and a team from Las Cumbres will regularly travel to southern New Mexico and spend time on both sides of the border “to learn what families are facing and how we can provide them trauma-informed supports, including screening and assessments.”
They also hope to learn what families must go through as they navigate the immigration process and how Las Cumbres can help, she said.
Las Cumbres was one of only 13 entities nationwide to receive this federal grant. They are also the only entity in New Mexico and one of only two border states to receive it.
“For me and the team, we’re all very committed to providing support for children who have experienced trauma,” she said. “Regardless of the broader political debate about the situation at the border, what I believe and what I know is children who have experienced trauma deserve support.”
In a Journal interview just prior to leaving CYFD, Jacobson recalled the “profound sense of sadness” she felt watching video taken at the border, where U.S. immigration officials separated children from parents.
Legal issues aside, “at the heart of every issue I’ve seen is the desire for human connection” she said. “So when you’re disrupting the human connection between a parent and a child, you’d better make sure there’s strong support in place so that you’re finding a human connection for those children – not just a warm bed, not just food, but human connection. That’s essential.”