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New Mexico continues to lead the nation in early childhood investment

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Press Release

February 16 2024


Micah McCoy
Communications Director

Email: micah.mccoy@ececd.gov.nm
Mobile: (505) 629–9575
1120 Paseo De Peralta
Santa Fe, NM 87501

FY25 budget sustains funding for child care assistance, expands NM PreK, invests in tribal infrastructure, and addresses professional wages for infant and toddler teachers; Early Childhood Trust Fund distribution increased 

SANTA FE – Today, the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) celebrated the passage of HB2, the New Mexico state budget bill, which continues the historic investments in early childhood education and care in New Mexico. The FY25 budget, which allocates $784,815,000 for early education and care – and over $3 million for Tribal capital investments, will sustain many of the program and service expansions made with federal coronavirus relief funds. These continued investments ensure that New Mexico can continue to build a cohesive and equitable prenatal-to-five system that improves outcomes for families and young children.

“New Mexico’s vision for a free, universal, high-quality early care and education system would provide every family, in every corner of our state, the services they want and deserve” said ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “This budget demonstrates our state’s collective commitment to building a future where all children and families are thriving and cements New Mexico’s place at the forefront of early childhood investment and innovation.”

“Through our department’s ongoing consultation with Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations, Tribal leaders have consistently identified improving early childhood infrastructure as a top priority,” said Cotillion Sneddy, ECECD Assistant Secretary for Native American Early Education and Care. “We heard their message and made it our shared priority. This budget includes landmark early childhood capital outlay investments, an important step towards improving early childhood facilities in New Mexico’s sovereign nations.”

Whereas many U.S. states currently face a “child care cliff” as federal relief funds expire, New Mexico has used the wealth generated by its natural resources to create sustainable sources of funding for early childhood education and care. This session, the New Mexico State Legislature increased the annual distribution of one of those sources, the New Mexico Early Childhood Trust Fund (ECTF), to tap the potential of the rapidly growing fund. Moving forward, the ECTF will distribute $250 million annually or five percent of the corpus of the fund instead of the previous $150 million, generating $95 million in FY25 for key early childhood programs such as child care assistance, New Mexico PreK, and maternal and infant health services, including doulas and lactation consultants.

Studies show that investments in high-quality early childhood education strengthens families, has the potential to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and provide a 13 percent annual return on investment. More than 80 percent of a human’s brain develops in the first three years of life and high-quality early education and care during this critical period of development improves long term outcomes such as lower special education, higher graduation rates, improved mental and physical health, economic mobility, reduced criminal justice system involvement, and a host of other individual and societal benefits. 

“OLÉ members want to thank our legislators and the Governor for supporting our families and early childhood professionals by investing in a wage and career ladder that will provide professional wages for our early educators,” said Merline Gallegos, OLÉ member and director of Kelly’s Learning Academy in Las Cruces, NM. “United we are building the equitable child care and education system that New Mexicans want. ¡Si, se puede!”

“In another year of record budget surpluses, we applaud the legislature for continuing the path New Mexico has charted in investing big in our youngest children,” said Jacob Vigil, New Mexico Voices for Children Deputy Policy Director. “The Governor and state legislators have remained true to the desires of New Mexico voters by continuing to increase investments in child care, PreK, and home visiting. We are pleased that this budget also includes initial investments in a wage and career ladder for infant and toddler teachers and are hopeful that policymakers will expand this as they see its benefits for New Mexico children and the professionals who care for and educate them.” 


Child Care ($75,714,000)

  • Maintain expanded income eligibility for child care assistance at 400 percent Federal Poverty Level ($120k/year for a family of four)
  • Expand access to high quality child care for infants and toddlers through contracted slots
  • Increase staffing for Child Care Services Bureau to handle increased caseloads

Quality Initiatives ($18,000,000)

  • Conduct research-based assessments, enhance coaching, professional development, and technical assistance for child care as part of the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement system redesign 
  • Increase PreK coaching and professional development on early literacy and social and emotional development
  • Invest in a wage and career ladder for infant and toddler teachers and assistant teachers

New Mexico PreK ($17,640,000)

  • Expand access to 1,300 additional children in NM Early PreK and PreK


Tribal Early Childhood Investment ($3,314,000)

  • Supports the renovation and improvement of early childhood facilities for:  Jicarilla Apache Nation, Acoma Pueblo, San Ildefonso Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Tesuque Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo and Kewa-Santa Domingo Pueblo.



    Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham launched the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) in 2020, making New Mexico among the first states to consolidate all early childhood programs and services under a single cabinet-level agency. Under this administration, ECECD has led the nation by expanding access to free New Mexico PreK, overseeing the largest investment in early childhood infrastructure in state history, and implementing cost-free child care for a majority of New Mexico families. Learn more about how ECECD supports children, families, and the early childhood professionals that serve our communities at nmececd.org. On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @NewMexicoECECD.