The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department announced on Tuesday what it calls a “historic” expansion of New Mexico pre-Kindergarten programs.
NMECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky held a press conference in Albuquerque to discuss the funding expansion. With $98 million available to expand and enhance New Mexico pre-K allocated by the Legislature for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July, the department seeks to expand both instructional hours and educator credentials; increase per student rate and supplemental funding; increase access and provide clarity for Head Start program grantees. For three-year-old children enrolled in early pre-K, the expansion could go from the current rate of $8,750 per child to $15,750 per child. That would be for organizations that apply for the extended plus program and would include 1,380 hours of instruction per year. For four-year-old children enrolled in pre-K, the expansion could go from $7,000 per child to $14,300 per child and would also increase the instructional hours to 1,380.
The state will initiate a new program for some new parents of newborns that will provide limited in-home nursing visits within three weeks postpartum. The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department are partnering with University of New Mexico Hospital to provide the service. The start of the program is limited to individuals who reside in Bernalillo County and who receive prenatal care at the UNM Eubank Women’s Health Clinic and deliver at UNM Hospital. A spokesperson for NMDOH said growth of the project depends on “a wide range of community partners and their support for the work to move forward.”
The program provides up to three nurse visits, with the first visit being in person. The nurse checks in on support for the parent’s health care, support for infant care, support for a safe home and support for the parents, according to a news release.
In November, voters will vote whether an additional 1.25 percent of distribution will come from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to help support early childcare education in New Mexico, as well as address some of the concerns raised in the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit. The fund, also known as the Permanent School Fund, at around $25 billion, is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. It grows annually based on a rolling five-year average, which protects the fund from stock market crashes and reductions in oil and gas revenues. The state currently distributes 5 percent of the fund, annually, to the New Mexico Public Education Department and to 20 other public institutions. For 10 years legislators and early childcare advocates worked on a joint resolution that would allow voters to decide if an additional 1.25 percent of the fund’s growth could be spent on early childcare and at-risk students.
The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department released its first four-year fiscal plan, detailing what the department needs in order to deliver high-quality early childhood education and services. The ECECD held a virtual press conference on Wednesday to detail the new plan. Some of the highlights include increasing childhood educator and staff wages and expanding access to PreK for more children. The department projected next fiscal year’s expenses to be $505,883,920 which is expected to serve 27,479 children. The department projects its budget request will increase to $943,289,473 and serve 47,091 children in three years and FY26 will be $943,289,473 and the department anticipates serving .