State offers child care workers $1,500 incentive

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Child care experts said the research is clear – making sure New Mexico children have access to quality early childhood care can make all the difference.

“So much of our lifelong learning our health outcomes, our ability to self regulate, to have our executive function to allow us to persist when things are very challenging. All is that foundation and that architecture is laid in the early years of a human’s development,” said Elizabeth Groginsky with Early Childhood Education and Care Department.

But nationwide there’s been a shortage of early childhood applicants and workers with pay being the main reason.

“We did see a decline in enrollment. So families had taken their children out of care and we did see a decline again in staff not coming back as quickly to the profession. But we are seeing the trend going in the right direction now,” said Groginsky.

The state has increased minimum pay and even introduced a number of other opportunities, including a wage supplement program that would bring an early childhood education teacher’s average salary closer to $40,000.

“We’re actually seeing a significant increase in the number of applicants coming through to get their background check to work in childcare. So it’s promising and we hope it continues. The trend continues in this direction,” Groginsky said.

On Monday, Nov. 1 there will be another incentive – a one time payment of $1,500.

“We know that the one time payment, while it’s not enough, it at least recognizes the contribution that they’re making to children, families and to our communities.

More than 11,000 child care workers are eligible for the grant thanks to $18 million from the feds. Child care experts said it’s important that these workers aren’t left wondering how they’ll make it by day to day.

“That’s not a place where they can deliver the quality that they want to deliver. So this relief is one time I mean, hopefully right before the holidays, is very exciting.”

Applications go live on the Early Childhood Education and Care Department’s website on Monday. Applications close Wednesday, Dec. 1.

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