Education

New Mexico’s first Early Childhood Education and Care Department responds to providers’ needs during the pandemic

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This is part three of our New Mexico early childhood education series.  

Since the pandemic began, the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) has held weekly calls for early childcare providers across the state, sharing important information and developing enhanced safety protocols. In addition, the department has also provided much-needed support for early childhood providers which includes recently released guidance to resume in-person home visiting.

“Early on during COVID-19, we saw how early childcare providers were playing a critical role, caring for children of essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders."

Matthew Henderson, OLÉ Education Fund Director Tweet

WKKF grantee OLÉ Education Fund, New Mexico, worked tirelessly for weeks to advocate for incentive pay, specifically for childcare workers and their work payed off. In May, the ECECD announced a $700 a month payment directly to workers, making New Mexico the second state to establish incentive pay.

OLÉ Education Fund Director Matthew Henderson explains, “Early on during COVID-19, we saw how early childcare providers were playing a critical role, caring for children of essential workers – nurses, doctors, first responders.” While people were in quarantine, some providers were putting themselves at risk by keeping their doors open. Henderson continues, “ECECD Secretary Groginsky responded to our educators quickly, working with allies like the Partnership for Community Action, we’ve been able to make sure our early child care network has better protections.”

For several months, the department paid providers based on enrollment numbers, not attendance, waived parent copays and continues to provide insurance coverage for uninsured childcare employees testing positive for COVID-19. ECECD is also providing nearly $12 million in grants through the Child Care Stabilization and Recovery program to assist licensed childcare providers who have been impacted by the health emergency.

The pandemic has exposed the disparities of low-wage workers – who are often identified as our essential workers. OLÉ Education Fund is partnering with the department and other organizations to address these inequities, especially around pay.

Read more about New Mexico’s commitment to prioritize early childhood education.

New Mexico Early Childhood Education Series

"The Next Generation: New Mexico’s Greatest Resource"

Check out the other stories about the early childhood system in New Mexico.

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