New Mexico offers $157M grant to child care industry

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Day care centers across New Mexico had to shut their doors and let some employees go during the pandemic. Now the state is stepping up to help them.

The New Mexico’s child care industry has felt the effects of COVID-19 not just the economic impact, but also staffing issues.

"There are many programs that have a waiting list due to not having a workforce to bring in children. So families are ready to go back to work, yet they can’t find care for their kids,” said Sondra Carpenter, executive director of Christian Kent Early Childhood Center.

So the state is offering a $157 million "stabilization grant” that is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. It’s coming from the New Mexico Early Education and Care Department and is going to more than 1,000 child care businesses across the state. Just like the name implies, it’s meant to stabilize an industry heavily impacted by the pandemic.

"Like hire and retain staff, retiring bad pandemic debt and other things like investing in other things to bring up the quality of care like infrastructure and that sort of thing," said Micah McCoy, Early Childhood Education and Care Department communication director.

Christina Kent Early Childhood Center was one of the recipients and said it will help them is a big way.

"There’s a waiting list, but we’re not at full capacity. So that loss of income programs is significant because to bring that workforce we need to get them at a higher wage, we need to increase staff salaries, we need to be competitive families can’t pay more. The stabilization grant is going to help us put some pieces to help solve some of that,” said Carpenter.