New Mexico offering wage supplements and scholarships for early childhood educators
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- If it weren’t for early childhood educators, the pandemic would be much more difficult for essential workers and their families.
"If those families didn’t have access to that care, they wouldn’t have been able to help serve and support New Mexicans," explained Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky.
Except often times, the pay for critical work by Pre-K educators isn’t there.
"The market wages are just not sufficient, really for these educators to even support their own families," said Groginsky.
Early childhood education teachers average $27,000 a year. The state hopes to get them closer to $40,000 through a wage supplement program for 500 applicants.
"There are a number of requirements of course, you have to be working in a licensed early childhood facility at least 20 hours a week, and they are an engaged in an education program," said Groginsky.
There’s also a thousand scholarships available for those education programs.
"These are oftentimes women, women of color working in our state who don’t necessarily have the time and the resources," Groginsky said. "So we do very innovative strategies to make sure that they have access to not only scholarships but mentoring."
Then there’s the new pay parity program. It would help up to 200 teachers with bachelor degrees get the same pay as their public school counterparts.
"We want all early childhood educators across New Mexico to know that if you are engaged in higher education, you have a degree, you’re working with young children, please apply," urged Groginsky. "We want to make sure you’re getting a supplement to your wages."
After all, those first few years are crucial in a child development.
"Having access to high quality early childhood educators and opportunities and experiences help set the foundation for future learning and growth," said Sec. Groginsky.
The state hopes by supporting a diverse and qualified workforce through the incentives, teachers will feel more appreciated and kids will get the direct benefits.