Lack of childcare workers and overall availability of care for working parents were some concerns of Carlsbad educators and parents during a listening session Wednesday night with members of the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Development Department.
Early Childhood Education and Care Development Secretary (ECECD) Elizabeth Groginsky said Carlsbad was no different than other New Mexico communities her department has visited this spring.
“The workforce was one of the No. 1 concerns. We see it across all industries, but particularly in early childhood. Because we need people who have certification and associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees that it’s a real challenge to find those individuals,” she said.
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Groginsky said people were not aware that early childhood education could be a career choice.
She said grant money released last week to the Carlsbad Municipal Schools (CMS) for conversion of the Pre-Kindergarten program from halftime to fulltime could alleviate some problems associated with lack of childhood in the community.
“We think that better meets the needs of families and I’m excited to see that move,” Groginsky said.
Tuesday, ECECD announced the launch of the New Mexico Child Care Supply Building Grant, per a news release.
The purpose of the funding opportunity was to build high-quality childcare supply throughout New Mexico, especially in areas of the state considered childcare deserts, where demand for care far outpaces capacity, the news release stated.
The administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the grant as an opportunity to build high-quality childcare throughout New Mexico, where demand for care outpaces capacity.
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The New Mexico Child Care Supply Building Grant will provide funding for licensed childcare providers to expand their existing programs and encourage statewide businesses to create or expand childcare for their employees, according to the press release.
ECECD estimates that this grant will create 800 childcare slots across the state.
A deeper look at ECECD
In 2019, the Governor signed the Early Childhood Education and Care Act into law, which created ECECD, according to a report from the agency’s website.
Two years ago, Lujan Grisham enacted the Early Childhood Trust Fund (ECTF) that distributes funds annually to ECECD, per the report.
Groginsky said the department was designed to prepare New Mexico’s young children for life.
“The purpose of the department was to better align resources to maximize all the available funding for prenatal to five (years old) period and improve the outcomes for children, specifically making sure they are school ready,” she said.
Groginsky said the Lujan administration was committed to ensuring every New Mexico family would have access to early education and care regardless of income or zip code.
“As soon as a family knows they are pregnant we have programs and services that can help support them and all they way until the kindergarten entry. We also provide childcare up to the age of 12,” she said.
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Listening sessions not done
Groginsky visited Roswell, Artesia, and Carlsbad during a three-day swing.
Thursday, she spent time meeting with CMS administrators and visited a childcare program.
Her listening tours started four months ago in Albuquerque and end in June, said Micah McCoy, ECECD spokesperson.
Next month she will visit Gallup and Grants along with Las Cruces, Anthony, Santa Teresa, and Sunland Park.
McCoy said the listening sessions were designed to gather community input from all sections of New Mexico to set the tone for ECECD functions.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.
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