NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new partnership between the Mescalero Apache Tribe and Eastern New Mexico University is helping tribal kids get much needed services. The tribe only has one speech pathologist working with nearly a dozen kids.

More than half of them need some form of speech therapy, leaving their one speech pathologist overwhelmed. “We currently have one speech therapist and it’s also via telehealth, but it’s just a little too much. If we keep providing the once a week majority of the 11 children get the services it is a little too much for her,” said Rosario Dick, Mescalero Apache Early Childhood Program Director.

With a national shortage of speech language pathologists, the Mescalero Apache Early Childhood Program was looking for a way to take some of the load off their specialist. That’s why they’re teaming up with ENMU. The new partnership will not just provide therapy for those kids in need but will also benefit students enrolled in the Communicative Disorders Program.

Suzanne Swift, Professor of Communicative Disorders, Graduate Program Director and Coordinator said four ENMU students have been selected for the program. Each session will be done through video conference calls. “All of the students providing services to the Mescalero Apache Tribe will be supervised by a senior speech language pathologist ,” said Swift.

The university said this is the first time they’ve partnered up with a tribe. All of the students who were selected to be part of this partnership went through a background check.