In a report presented at an interim committee Wednesday, Legislative Finance Committee staff recommended that the legislature consider allocating funds to study standards-based home visiting program outcomes for new parents. Providers of the home visiting program can choose which home visiting model they operate. State statute requires that home visiting programs be at least standards-based, which means the program must be grounded in empirically best practices and the program must rely on a curriculum linked to positive outcomes for children and families. But, the LFC report states that standards-based programs do not adhere to the same requirements as more rigorously evaluated evidence-based models. The programs do not specify the number of visits a month the parents receive, the expected length of the parent enrollment or workforce requirements.
Legislative allocations for the Early Childhood Education and Care Department’s home visiting program have increased, but family participation remains low, a new legislative report found. The Legislative Finance Committee held an interim hearing last week to hear the findings on the ECECD’s home visiting program. Home visiting in the state is expected to generate a return on investment ranging from $1 to $14 on every public dollar spent. Home visiting has expanded with funding increases by 216 percent since Fiscal Year 2017. But, the report found most eligible children remain unserved and families that do enroll in the program have a high dropout rate, with only 11 percent of families completing the two-year program.
During a keynote address at the White House on Wednesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced an expansion of Pre-K programs with money from the state’s land grant permanent fund’s additional distribution of 1.25 percent. Lujan Grisham spoke during an event called White House States Convening on Child Care, during which several policy makers and leaders—including First Lady Jill Biden—spoke about the importance of early childhood education and early childcare. During her speech, Lujan Grisham said the state would spend $100 million to increase the number of children served by more than 3,000. Lujan Grisham said her goal is universal early childcare. “That’s another 3,000 kiddos that are three years old that are going to go to early childcare education.
Friday afternoon, a line of people formed outside a room in the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum in Albuquerque.
The line was made up of expectant parents, some with children, who came to a baby shower put on by the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department to bring attention to the home visiting program. Participants who had signed up for the baby shower received a diaper bag with diapers, clothes, grooming kits and more. The baby shower was one of four being done across the state this spring and summer. “(Home visiting) is open for any family and it’s available prenatal to age five,” ECECD Division Director for Family Support and Early Intervention Mayra Gutierrez said. “I want to share that this program is open to anybody.
On July 1, a constitutional amendment to increase the distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund t toward educating the state’s youngest children goes into effect. The amendment, approved by voters last fall, would draw an additional 1.25 percent from the fund. Along with money from the state’s general fund, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department will receive $327.6 million for Fiscal Year 2024, a nearly 68 percent increase in funding over Fiscal Year 2023. The department will receive another $120 million from the early childhood trust fund to increase childcare assistance, tribal early childhood services and workforce supports, according to a report compiled by ECECD and the interim Legislative Finance Committee. ECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky gave a presentation before the interim Legislative Finance Committee this week to update the committee on her department’s spending and programs.
With the increased funding for FY24, the home visiting program will grow to $28.3 million.
The state Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced a proposed rule change that would maintain the expanded eligibility for early childcare assistance on a day of action by some early childcare centers nationwide. ECECD expanded early childcare assistance in 2021 to allow a family of four making up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, to remain eligible for state assistance. The policy had a 2023 end date but ECECD is proposing to change its rules to implement that change permanently. The rule change would also include increased rates for early childcare providers and will enable participating providers to maintain a $3 per hour raise that went into effect in 2021. Micah McCoy, communications director for ECECD, told NM Political Report that the intent is that no early childcare worker will make less than $15 an hour but lead teachers can make as much as $20 an hour.
A Senate committee passed, with no recommendation, a bill that aims to reduce expulsions and suspensions for young learners by a 5-3 vote. SB 283 would, if enacted, prohibit the expulsion or suspension for more than three days of preschool, pre-K, kindergarten and first and second grade students. The bill would also make expelling or suspending for up to three days an option only if a child causes or threatens bodily injury to another person. It also contains a provision for data collection by both the Early Childhood Education and Care Department and by the Public Education Department on suspensions and expulsions. State Sen. Harold Pope, D-Albuquerque, is the sponsor.
The state launched a new tool to help families find childcare last week. The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department launched the online tool to assist parents looking for child care options, according to a news release. The Child Care Finder website takes recent data from the state and populates the information into profiles for each child care program. ECECD’s Child Care Finder is available at: https://childcare.ececd.nm.gov/search
Early child care providers can customize their profiles and families can search for programs using various parameters, including zip code, age range, availability, quality rating, tuition and language. “This is such a good resource and communication tool, both for families and child care providers,” said JoEllen Bellington, Director of Fuzzy Slipper Family Child Care through the release.
On August 1, New Mexico will expand early child care assistance to allow a family of four with a nearly $93,000 yearly income eligible for assistance from the state, among other early childcare changes. Some have said the expansions to early childcare could empower women in New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky announced earlier this month that, through funding from the federal American Rescue Plan, the state will expand who qualifies for early child care assistance. Micah McCoy, ECECD communications director, told NM Political Report that the income requirement for state assistance for early childcare is currently 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that equals about $53,000 a year, he said.
For the next two years, New Mexico will raise the income eligibility for childcare assistance from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to 350 percent of the federal poverty level with a phase out at 400 percent of the federal poverty level, officials announced Thursday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Early Childcare Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales and state Sen. Michael Padilla spoke during a press conference Thursday to announce the change. The press conference was also part of a one-year anniversary celebration for ECECD, which is an agency that began under the Lujan Grisham administration to improve early childcare education. The press conference was held in Santa Fe and online. The department will use emergency funds available through the federal American Rescue Plan to increase the assistance starting August 1.