Great news for New Mexico families and early childhood professionals as Governor Lujan Grisham announced three new initiatives on Thursday:
Expansion of free child care to qualifying families earning up to 400% of federal poverty level
$10 million dollars of new grants to increase the availability of child care
Stipends of up to $2,000 per semester for early childhood professionals enrolled in early childhood degree programs at New Mexico universities and public colleges
“Families must be at the center of our efforts around early childcare,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “The announcements today support a universal early childhood education and care system that increases access, maximizes parent choice, and supports early childhood professionals.”
Expansion of free child care Free child care will be expanded to qualifying families earning up to 400% of federal poverty level (FPL), or around $111,000 a year for a family of four. Starting on May 1, 2022, all families enrolled in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program will no longer owe copays for child care services, making child care cost-free. The expansion builds on the administration's previous work, which doubled family eligibility in July of 2021. The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) estimates that 18,000 families statewide will now qualify for free child care. Families can find out if they are eligible by taking the “Am I Eligible?” survey at the ECECD website or contacting the ECECD call center at (800) 832-1321.
$10 million dollars of grants to expand availability of child care ECECD will dedicate $10 million dollars toward grants specifically designed to expand the availability of child care in communities where it is needed most. This pilot round of supply-building grants will add capacity for up to 800 more children around the state. ECECD plans to launch this grant in the coming weeks. Child care providers, communities, and employers who want to create new or expand existing child care availability will be able to submit proposals at that time.
$2,000 stipends for early childhood professionals enrolled in early childhood degree programs On May 5, Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day, Gov. Lujan Grisham will open applications for a new stipend program that pays up to $2,000 per semester to early childhood professionals who are currently enrolled in early childhood degree programs at one of New Mexico institutions of higher education. This stipend program will replace ECECD’s current scholarship program, which provides financial support to students pursuing early childhood degrees. Most of the 825 early childhood professionals who are currently enrolled in the ECECD scholarship program will benefit from the new stipend program moving forward. This new stipend program arrives shortly after passage of the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship, which provides tuition-free college for all in New Mexico.