SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Education and Early Childhood Care (ECECD) has announced that it has awarded more than $ 157 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to 1,004 qualifying child care businesses across the state, making it one of the largest investments in early childhood care and education in New Mexico state history.
This funding will help stabilize child care businesses still reeling from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, improve recruitment and retention of child care professionals, increase capacity to child care and to increase access to quality child care for New Mexico families.
“New Mexico needs a strong and stable child care industry, not only to support the growth and development of our children, but also to ensure that parents are not forced to give up. the labor market because they cannot access child care. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “The swift and fair distribution of these emergency funds by our state is another sign of our commitment to help New Mexicans return to work and rebuild our economy stronger than ever.”
“This investment will be transformational for the child care sector in our state, which has been particularly affected by the pandemic,” said ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “These grants are critical to ensuring that the child care providers who educated, cared for, and nurtured New Mexico children during the darkest days of the pandemic can continue to serve New Mexico families for decades to come.” to come.”
Earlier this year, the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Care used earmarked funds from ARPA to provide child care stabilization grants to states, territories, and tribal agencies administering the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF). As CCDF’s lead agency for New Mexico, the Department of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECECD) received $ 197,076,859 as part of the Custody Stabilization Program. children of ARPA, which includes a 10% reserve for administration, provision of supplies and technical assistance, leaving a total of $ 177,369,173 for direct grants to child care providers. children of New Mexico.
Lead agencies are strongly encouraged to provide timely relief with a requirement to commit 50% by December 2021 and the remaining 50% by September 30, 2022. New Mexico is one the first states to commit and distribute these funds, paying the first of six monthly installments on October 15.
In recognition of the extraordinary economic strains caused by the pandemic, these grants are designed to help the child care industry in New Mexico cope with the fallout from declining enrollments, labor shortages and higher costs. Without these emergency funds, there could be devastating consequences for the state’s economy – which depends heavily on working parents – and for the growth, development and socio-emotional health of young children.
ECECD acted quickly to create a formula to fairly distribute these relief dollars, taking into account the type of provider, licensed capacity, continued operation during the pandemic, level of quality, availability of care. to infants and toddlers and the location of companies using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social Vulnerability Index. The Department created an online portal to provide a simple and streamlined application process, which was open from September 1 to October 1.
Child care companies can use the funds for personnel costs, rent, utilities, facility maintenance, insurance, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and other health and care practices. security, purchases or updates of equipment and supplies to respond to COVID-19, goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services, mental health supports for children and employees, and payment of past expenses resulting from the pandemic. Child care providers have indicated in their application how they plan to use the funds.
“We are the only center in the region that is open year round and provides care for children aged six weeks to three years,” said Misty Pugmire, director of the El Grito Early Learning Center in Silver City. “When we closed in June, 31 families were denied care for their young children. We will use the funding from the Child Care Stabilization Grant to help hire, retain and train staff as we are reopening early next year. “
Providers receiving grants include 526 licensed centers, 102 large family day care centers, 71 family day care centers and 305 registered homes that were open or temporarily closed as of March 11, 2021 and in good standing with the child care license. ECEC has received requests from providers in all 30 counties across the state where child care programs exist.