One year ago, we entered this public health crisis not knowing what our future held. Today, we mourn those we have lost and continue to send our well wishes to all those still infected or suffering from the effects of COVID-19.
From the beginning of the pandemic, ECECD, as a new agency created in July 2020, had to adapt, learn, collaborate, and then continue providing the services our communities so desperately need. The state’s early childhood providers on the front lines, often risking their health and safety, continued to provide vital early child care and other services throughout the pandemic:
- child care centers and home providers continued to care for our youngest residents, including the children of first responders and frontline medical workers;
- food sponsors delivered meals directly to families and community partners to ensure that every New Mexican child has access to healthy and nutritious food;
- home visitors stayed connected to families through telehealth and helped families access the resources they needed;
- Family Infant Toddler (FIT) programs evaluated children and provided telehealth early intervention services to those with developmental needs;
- Families FIRST nurses provided vital prenatal services to pregnant women and families through education and Medicaid eligibility assistance while supporting our state’s massive testing and vaccination efforts;
- PreK programs in public schools and community-based programs continued to educate young students through in-person, hybrid, and remote models, to support their education during their most formative developmental years; and
- The state’s early childhood coaches and consultants continued to support child care, PreK, and home visiting programs while remaining flexible to address the immediate and changing needs of programs and families.
- ECECD collaborated with the Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations to deliver supplies such as diapers, wipes, food, onesies, books, bassinets, and formula to ensure our infant population had resources during the closing of tribal lands.
This shows that we, as a community, came together to move forward through the fear, unknown, health risks, isolation, and economic insecurities for the sake of our children and their families. While we have lost much during the past year, including our own family members and colleagues, we have seen that our state is strong, resilient, and united and will come out of this pandemic with the knowledge and experience to recover and then improve. And improve we must. Life may never be the same as it was prior to the pandemic and the new normal will most certainly look different. What matters is that we move forward with the knowledge and experience we collectively gained during this public health crisis and continue to enhance the early intervention, care, and education provided in New Mexico. Our children and families desperately need our continued help as we navigate toward what is hopefully the end of this pandemic. I want to thank all of you for everything you’ve done over the past year and continue to do every day.