Child Care Assistance

The Child Care Assistance Program subsidizes the cost of child care for families at or below 400% of the federal poverty level that are working, in school, or searching for employment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable child care as no more than 7% of a family’s annual income. To date, no other state has enacted a child care support program that provides no-cost care to such a broad economic demographic.

Copayments are currently being waived for families on the Child Care Assistance program. ECECD will give providers and families three months’ notice prior to reinstatement of copayments.

Wave pattern

How do I apply for child care assistance?

Call 1-800-832-1321 or reach us via email at Child.care@state.nm.us. Visit a field office (view the Child Care Assistance Document Library for a complete updated list of Statewide office locations). 

You will need to bring the following information with you when you apply for services:

  • Current proof of countable earned and unearned income for applicant and biological parent, step-parent, and/or legal guardian living in the household, if applicable
  • School schedule for applicant and biological parent, step-parent, and/or legal guardian living in the household (if applicable)
  • Documentation of Incapacitation, if applicable
  • Documentation of Custody/Dependency, if applicable
  • Verification of birth for all applicant children
  • Photo Identification for applicant
  • Proof of New Mexico residency, such as a lease/rental agreement or utility bill

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What is Child Care Assistance and How to Apply?

New Mexico Child Care Finder

Visit ECECD’s New Mexico Child Care Finder to filter results that meet your family’s needs. The Child Care Finder, allows parents and caregivers to search for one of the 1000+ child care programs statewide, filtering by proximity, age of child, quality rating, tuition, language, program type, and more.

Need a customized referral with a Family Specialist? Please call NewMexicoKids Resource and Referral at 1 (800) 691-9067. The call will be personalized to your specific needs. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and referrals will be given to you via e-mail or over the phone. Calls are returned Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Care Assistance

Click tabs below to see questions from new clients, current clients, and providers.

 

Child Care Assistance Document Library

Looking for the most recent forms? Click here to jump to the Child Care Assistance Document Library.

Q: What is child care assistance? 

A: Child Care Assistance helps income-eligible families pay a portion of child care costs while they work, attend school or training programs, job search or other eligible qualifying activities.  

Q: Who can apply for Child Care Assistance? 

A: Any parent or legal guardian who is working, going to school, actively looking for a job, or participating in a job training program who needs help with child care expenses. The applicant applying for child care assistance must also be a resident of the state of New Mexico. 

Q: How do I apply for child care assistance? 

A:  There are 3 ways to apply for our Child Care Assistance Program:  

1. Visit one of our statewide local Child Care offices. Please see list of offices at Child Care Assistance Document Library.

2.  Apply online at https://eligibility.ececd.state.nm.us). This website will allow you to complete an online application and enable you to upload required documents. Applying through this website will also allow you to track the status of your application.

3. Another option is to apply through email by submitting the application and all required documents to ChildCareAssistance@state.nm.us.  The application and list of required documents can be found in the Child Care Assistance Document Library or you can contact us at our local offices to email/mail the documents to you.

    Q: What documents do I need to provide with my application? 

    A:   See list of required documents at Child Care Assistance Document Library.

    Q: Who can be counted in my household? 

    A: Biological parents, step-parents, and legal guardians of the children for whom child care assistance is sought and any legal dependents of the applicant who is living in the home of the applicant, including children, will be included in the household. Grandparents residing in the home can also be counted in the household.  

    Q: What income is counted for determining eligibility?  

    A: Countable income includes gross wages from employment, self-employment income, retirement/pensions, workman’s compensation, alimony, royalties, income from rental property, and some Social Security benefits. Examples of income that is exempt include TANF, food stamps (SNAP), employer reimbursements (mileage, uniforms, etc.), SSI and some Social Security benefits, VA disability, student loans or other payments for educational purposes, and child support. You can find more information and countable and non-countable income by viewing the child care assistance policies at 8.9.3 NMAC.

    Q: What are the income limits for my family size? 

    A: See current income guidelines at Child Care Assistance Document Library.

    Q: How long does it take to get approved for child care? 

    A: Once all required documentation is received by our office, ECECD will process your application within 10 working days. This process may be delayed if you do not provide all the required documents with your application. If you do not submit all required documents, ECECD will send you a Notice of Action, telling you what documents are missing.  You will have 14 (fourteen) days to turn in these remaining documents. Your application will become denied if all required documentation is not received within that timeframe. 

    Q: Will the Child Care assistance program cover the full cost of child care? 

    A: The Child Care Assistance Program assists families with a portion of the child care costs. Families may be required share child care costs, which is called a copayment. The copayment is determined based on the family size and the household income. However, currently copayments are waived until the foreseeable future. ECECD will notify families and providers 3 months prior to the implementation of copayments.

    Q: How is copayment determined? 

    A:  The ECECD Child Care Assistance Copayment schedule is developed from a calculation which considers family monthly income and family size. Copayments are determined for each child and based on the number of hours care is needed. You can view the Copayment Chart at Child Care Assistance Document Library.

    Q: Can I still apply for child care assistance if I am not working, going to school, job searching or participating in a job training program? 

    A: The department may exempt a parent or guardian from the work/education requirement.  The exemption would be granted based on a submission of a demonstration of incapacitation through documentation such as letter from a medical professional, documents from a federal government agency that issues or provides disability benefits, etc.  

    Q: Are my expenses (rent, utility bills, or other expenses) taken into consideration when determining my eligibility and/or my copayment? 

    A: Eligibility and copayments are determined by gross monthly income and family size. Household expenses or income deductions are not considered. 

    Q: How do I pay the copayment? 

    A: You will pay your copayment directly to your child care provider each month.  Please discuss your provider’s policies with them and review their parent/family handbook for more information. 

    Q: Are there any other fees I need to pay? 

    A: You may be responsible for incidental costs (such as a field trip or special lunch). Providers cannot charge registration fees, educational/activity or supply fees, or transportation fees. Providers are paid by the department for these fees and should not be charging families.

    Q: How do I find a child care provider? 

    A: Visit ECECD’s New Mexico Child Care Finder to filter results that meet your family’s needs. The Child Care Finder, allows parents and caregivers to search for one of the 1000+ child care programs statewide, filtering by proximity, age of child, quality rating, tuition, language, program type, and more. Need a customized referral with a Family Specialist? Please call NewMexicoKids Resource and Referral at 1 (800) 691-9067. The call will be personalized to your specific needs. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and referrals will be given to you via e-mail or over the phone. Calls are returned Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Q: What else should I know about the program? 

    A: For more information on Child Care Assistance, please call Early Childhood Services at1-800-832-1321, contact your Child Care Assistance Document Libraryor email us at Child.care@state.nm.us. 

    Q: I need to make changes to my child care assistance contract, what do I need to do? (Examples: Change of provider, hours on contract, adding/removing a child or household member, change in activity, change needed for winter/summer break or school time, etc.) 

    A: You may report a change to your case worker by phone, email or visiting the local office. Please ensure your email or voice message includes your full name, child’s name and date of birth or other identifying information to confirm your child care case. Please also include details of the changes you are needing to make such as start/end date, reason for the change, and your contact information. Please allow up to 48 hours for your worker to respond to you. Once all required documentation is provided, please allow up to 10 business days to process the change. 

    Q: I need to change providers. How soon can I take my child to the new provider?  

    A: You can change providers after you have given your current provider a two (2) week notice. Please report to your worker the date you gave notice, the last date of attendance, name of new provider and start date at new provider. Please also ensure any copayments owed are paid in full.  Please remember, if you do not give a two (2) week notice and change providers, you may be responsible for payment to your new provider until the two (2) week notice ends to your previous provider. 

    Q: I need a new daycare for the weekend but still need care during the week. 

    A: You may report a change to your case worker by phone, email or visiting the local office. Please also submit your change in work/school schedule.  Please be specific with the hours you need during the week and the hours you need on the weekend.  Your case worker will review your request and will process by sending out a contract or a notice of action. Please note, that the child care assistance program cannot provide care for more than a full-time contract for each child in care. Therefore, if you need contracts for two (2) different providers, you will have two (2) part-time contracts. 

    Q: I need help finding a new child care provider.  What do I do? 

    A: Visit ECECD’s New Mexico Child Care Finder to filter results that meet your family’s needs. The Child Care Finder, allows parents and caregivers to search for one of the 1000+ child care programs statewide, filtering by proximity, age of child, quality rating, tuition, language, program type, and more. Need a customized referral with a Family Specialist? Please call NewMexicoKids Resource and Referral at 1 (800) 691-9067. The call will be personalized to your specific needs. It takes approximately 15 minutes to complete, and referrals will be given to you via e-mail or over the phone. Calls are returned Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

    Q: I had a baby and need to add him/her to my child care contract.  What do I need to do? 

    A: Please contact your case worker and submit verification of birth for the new child. You may submit your request by email, phone or visiting the local office.   

    Q: I know I may have to pay a copayment. Are there any other fees I need to pay to the provider? 

    A: You may be responsible for incidental costs (such as a field trip or special lunch). Providers cannot charge registration fees, educational/activity or supply fees, or transportation fees. Providers are paid by the department for these fees and should not be charging families. However, currently copayments are waived until the foreseeable future. ECECD will notify families and providers 3 months prior to the implementation of copayments.

    Q: I do not need help with child care at this time. Can I stop or close my contract? 

    A: Yes, you can suspend your contract anytime during your eligibility period.  Please be sure to give your current provider a 2-week notice.  Please know your contract may be ended but your case will remain open and you will remain eligible for the remainder of the 12 month eligibility period.  If you wish to start your contract again, please submit your request to your case worker.  This can be done by email, phone or visiting the local office.  Please include the name of your provider and start date in your request. 

    Q: I had a change in my work/school activity (such as I lost my job, started medical/parental leave, stopped school, etc.). Can I still use child care? 

    A: Yes, you may continue using child care when you experience a temporary change to your activity, such as loss of a job, medical/parental leave, school breaks/holidays, seasonal employment ending, decrease in hours, etc. It may benefit a client to notify their caseworker of a temporary change as it may decrease their copayment. Clients can continue to use child care during the time they are experiencing a  temporary change. Loss of a work or school activity is limited to 3 months of continued use of child care. 

    Q: My child care contract is due to end soon.  What do I need to do to renew my child care contract? 

    A: Please contact your caseworker by phone, email, or visiting the local office. You will need to submit the following documentation and inform your caseworker of any changes to your contact information, household size and work/school activity. 

    • Completed and Signed Application 
    • Current proof of income from employment and self-employment 
    • Current proof of educational activity/school schedule for adult household members 
    • Any other updated documentation needed 

    If you are renewing your child care case, you are eligible up to 425% FPL to continue qualifying for child care assistance. It is very important for you to renew your contract no later than 30 days of your eligibility expiration in order to qualify at this income limit. 

    ECECD now has a Provider Dashboard where you can have easy access to many Child Care Services. You can approve pending child care assistance contracts quickly, saving time and improving efficiency of child care payments. You can view all children for whom you received payment, view payment dates, have access to your remittance statements and keep employee records up to date. To gain access, please go to EPICS Child Care Provider Dashboard Information and Support for additional instructions. 

    Q: Who should I contact if I did not receive a payment for a child? 

    A: Please contact the caseworker directly by phone or email. You may also contact 1-800-832-1321. If you are not already enrolled, it would benefit you to sign up on the Provider Dashboard. Please see information at EPICS Child Care Provider Dashboard Information and Support. This will allow you to verify active contracts, approve pending contracts, review history of payment remittances and other helpful information. 

    Q: I have a client that applied for child care but I have not received a contract.  When will I receive it? 

    A:  If you have not received a contract, we may be missing some required documentation in order to determine eligibility for child care assistance. You can ask the client if they received a Notice of Action and remind them to return the required documentation, or a contract may not be issued. You may also contact the caseworker or the local child care office to inquire on the status of an application.  

    Please also check your Provider Dashboard. To gain access, please go to EPICS Child Care Provider Dashboard Information and Support for additional instructions. 

    Q: What fees can I charge a client who receives child care assistance? 

    A: Providers may charge copayments and incidental costs (such as a field trip or special lunch). Providers cannot charge registration fees, educational/activity or supply fees, transportation fees or any other fees. Providers are paid by the department for these fees in their monthly reimbursement rates and should not be charging families. ECECD implemented a cost estimation model July 1, 2021. This new cost estimation model was developed in collaboration with fiscal experts and local stakeholders to set subsidy rates at a level that supports the true cost of delivering high quality early childhood education to New Mexico’s children and families. 

    PLEASE NOTE: On May 1, 2022, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) expanded and extended its commitment to pay all eligible families’ copayments until the foreseeable future. ECECD will notify families and providers 3 months prior to the implementation of copayments. As a practical matter, ECECD will pay all copayments for families receiving subsidized child care assistance in New Mexico.

    Q: Currently the department is waiving copayments for some families. How can I know if a child’s copayment has been waived? 

    A: Effective May 1, 2022, the department is waiving copayments for all families for the foreseeable future. All families will not be required to pay a copayment at this time. ECECD will notify families and providers 3 months prior to the implementation of copayments. Child care providers will receive payment for the copayments directly from ECECD via the existing child care reimbursement process. Please note May 1, 2022, the department expanded eligibility to more NM families up to 400% FPL.  Families in these higher income limits are categorized as Priority 4+. The contract will indicate the client’s determined priority. 

    If copayment is waived, it will be noted on the client’s contract. The department is waiving copayments for most families for the foreseeable future. Families in all priorities will not be required to pay a copayment at this time. The copayment will be included in the regular payment issued by the department for each child that falls in this category. Please note August 1, 2021, the department expanded eligibility to more NM families up to 400% FPL.  Families in these higher income limits are categorized as Priority 4+ and will have a copayment. The contract will indicate the client’s determined priority. 

    Q: A child has stopped attending my child care facility/home? What do I need to do? 

    A: Providers must report to the Department within 14 calendar days of a child no longer attending your child care facility/home. Providers can email, fax or mail the notice of non-attendance to the caseworker or local child care office. Failure to report non-attendance timely may result in sanctions including recoupment.

    Q: I have been trying to contact a caseworker and have been unsuccessful.  Who else can I contact to discuss questions or concerns? 

    A: You may contact a Supervisor or Regional Manager (view Child Care Assistance Document Library for contact details), or call Early Childhood Services at1-800-832-1321or email us at Child.care@state.nm.us.  

    Question: How long will the copayments be waived?
    Answer: The Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) is paying the child care assistance copayments to child care providers through the foreseeable future. During this time period, child care providers may not charge copayments to families, parents and guardians that receive child care assistance, as providers will receive these copayments directly from ECECD.

    Question: Is the state waiving gross receipts taxes that clients pay to the child care facility?
    Answer: The cost estimation model referenced in 8.9.3.6(B) NMAC, includes gross receipts taxes in all the child care assistance rates that ECECD pays providers. Effective August 1, 2023 providers can charge gross receipts taxes to child care assistance families.

    Question: Do clients need to take any action on their current Child Care Placement Agreement?
    Answer: No. Clients with active Child Care Placement Agreements remain eligible for services through the end of their eligibility period as outlined on their current Child Care Placement Agreement. Clients active Child Care Placement Agreements do not need to take any action until they receive written notice from ECECD. Providers will receive child care subsidy payments, which include any calculated copayments, directly from ECECD via the existing child care reimbursement process.

    Question: Do clients with an active Child Care Placement Agreement need to reapply in order for this copayment waiver to take effect?
    Answer: No, a new Child Care Placement Agreement does not need to be contain the new copayment waiver language. The expanded copayment waiver went into effect on May 1, 2022 and will continue until the foreseeable future. Providers will receive child care subsidy payments, which include any calculated copayments, directly from ECECD via the existing child care reimbursement process.

    Question: Does a new Child Care Placement Agreement need to contain new language about the copayment waiver language?
    Answer: No, a new Child Care Placement Agreement does not need to be contain the new copayment waiver language. The expanded copayment waiver went into effect on May 1, 2022 and will continue for the foreseeable future. Providers will receive child care subsidy payments, which include any calculated copayments, directly from ECECD via the existing child care reimbursement process.

    Question: Is the copayment waived for all families?
    Answer: Under the current copayment waiver, ECECD will pay copayments for all families enrolled in the Child Care Assistance Program until the foreseeable future. ECECD will notify families and providers 3 months prior to the implementation of copayments.

    Question: How does a family qualify for child care assistance?
    Answer: Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements of the Child Care Assistance program, including income and qualifying activity requirements, unless otherwise exempt. ECECD expanded the income guidelines for the child care assistance program on May 1, 2022, and families, parents and guardians earning up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) now qualify. As a practical matter, a family of four earning $120,000 a year or less now meets the Child Care Assistance Program’s income requirement. Parents/guardians must be working, going to school, searching for employment, in a job training program or other qualifying activity to be eligible.

    Question: Will the child care provider receive more money on top of the current rates?
    Answer: No, ECECD has increased the child care subsidy rates effective as of August 1, 2023 to reflect true cost of child care through a cost estimation model. This new cost estimation model was developed in collaboration with fiscal experts and local stakeholders to set subsidy rates at a level that supports the true cost of delivering high quality early childhood education to New Mexico’s children and families.  The only change is that providers will receive the entire rate directly from ECECD via the existing child care reimbursement process.

    Question: Will ECECD be implementing provider incentive payments again since this incentive was re-instated?
    Answer: No. At this time, ECECD does not plan to re-implement provider incentive payments. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, however, recently announced that ECECD will dedicate $10 million of its federal relief dollars to child care supply building grants to increase the availability of child care in communities where it is most needed. This Child Care Supply Building grant was open to licensed and registered providers in the state of New Mexico, including eligible head start and tribal early child care providers, and to employers that intend to create or expand child care for their employees.

    Question: If a child care provider charges more than the department rate, will the provider be paid their rate or the difference between the department rate and their own?
    Answer: Child care providers that accept ECECD’s child care assistance payments are not allowed to charge additional rates and doing so may subject them to sanctions. See 8.9.3.15(E) NMAC (“Child care providers accept the rate the department pays for child care and are not allowed to charge families receiving child care assistance above the department rate for the hours listed on the child care placement agreement. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in sanctions.”)