March 24, 2020

Early childcare centers stay open amid stay-at-home order

A microbiologist in Pennsylvania conducted a test for COVID-19 in March, 2020. Flickr/cc

Considered front line workers, early childcare workers are exempt from the stay-at-home order Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave Monday.

The order, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Tuesday, requires businesses not deemed essential to temporarily close to limit activities and reduce the spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus.

The count of positive tests reached 100 Tuesday, with 17 new cases.

But the state considers childcare providers as essential workers because without them, first responders and other government employees who deliver indispensable services might not be able to go to work.

Some, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children, say that since childcare workers are being asked to continue to risk catching COVID-19 by working outside the home during the public health emergency, they should receive hazard pay.

Currently, an early childcare worker in New Mexico makes, on average, $9.10 an hour.

Lujan Grisham announced late last week that early childcare workers and their family members would be eligible for state insurance with all copays, premiums and deductibles waived, if they test positive for COVID-19.

The state is also waiving childcare assistance payments for parents for both March and April and offering $250 per month per enrolled child in the childcare assistance program as a financial incentive, according to a news release. Providers who need food or other supplies can fill out a brief survey for assistance.