Yoli Silva helped New Mexico’s children as a Las Cruces Public Schools (Title 1– Education for the Disadvantaged) Social Worker for over twenty-seven years, including twelve years as Project Link Homeless Education liaison to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Silva worked as an investigator, a counselor for foster care and adoption with Children, Youth & Families Department (CYFD), and advocated for community awareness of youth experiencing homelessness. An important perspective on the State of New Mexico’s foster care system, domestic violence, and its historic struggles with childhood welfare, the CYFD mission statement reads, simply, “Improving the Quality of Life for All Our Children.”
Locally, accommodated by Project Link liaisons to promote enrollment regardless personal circumstances, Las Cruces Public Schools issues “Student Residency Questionnaires” to identify homeless youth and families in need of assistance. In partnership with Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Las Cruces started a fundraiser event for Project Link called “Linking Hands: Helping Our Homeless Youth” which raised over $36,000 in 2018, and more than $40,000 in 2019.
Silva emphasizes regular commitment of student support to match the determination that youths need to create lasting educational schedules and routines. This includes community recognition that youth homelessness requires year-round attention, Silva tells us, and not just during holidays or over the winter months of the academic school year.
A long-time partner to Mesilla Valley Community of Hope and collaborator with former executive director Audrey Hardman-Hartley of Jardin de Los Niños to provide students consistent access to educational resources, in 2018 Silva retired from Las Cruces Public Schools persistent to continue to seek funding sources for New Mexico’s unaccompanied youth.
A Las Cruces Public Schools web-link also shares the informative Community Resource Guide created and maintained by Jardin de Los Niños staff. From child care, to crisis intervention, to food and financial assistance, to emergency shelter information; this vital services guide signals the city-wide collaboration in the Las Cruces community’s history to combine public health with necessary crisis response.
Yoli Silva speaks about community collaboration with the organization after learning that two unaccompanied teen youths became temporarily homeless during the winter season.