How much does it actually cost to provide high-quality child care in the State of New Mexico?

It’s a complicated question that needs to take many factors into consideration, including age of children served, program setting, quality level, geographic location, and more. Unlike many other states, New Mexico uses a cost-estimation model to more accurately inform the child care assistance rates it pays to providers, ensuring that the rates can support stable child care businesses, competitive compensation for educators, and quality learning environments for children. ECECD uses the cost model to analyze child care rates annually and make increases to per-child rates as budget allows. ECECD updates its cost model every three years to ensure the model reflects the current cost of care, in compliance with federal Child Care Development Fund requirements.

You can learn more about how New Mexico’s cost estimation model works in the report, Understanding the cost of quality care in New Mexico: A cost estimation model to inform subsidy rate setting (P-5 Fiscal Strategies, 2021).

ECECD has made a cost model calculator available to child care providers to help programs estimate how the child care subsidy rates will impact their bottom line.

A cost model is not the same as a program budget, a cost model has different choices that can be made to understand the costs and revenues to help programs and ECECD plan for the future. The cost model identifies the gap between the costs and the revenue sources available, depending on the choices you make in using it.  

Will I get the same answer or a single answer from the cost model tool?  

You make choices in using the cost model.  You will only get the same answer from the cost model if you make the exact same selections as you did previously, or as someone else using the model did to get their cost per child answer. 

There is not a single answer generated by a cost model. Cost answers vary by your choices on:  

  • Program size 
  • Ages of children served 
  • FOCUS Level 
What are the cost model values based on?  

In this July 2023 cost model:  

  • Expenses (salaries and benefits and non-personnel operating expenses) have been updated to FY24 expense values 
  • Revenues are based on the currently available revenues for state Child Care Assistance Program and federal Child and Adult Care Food Program 

Download the Cost Modeling Tool

TClick to download (Excel File)

TIP: If you are asked for a password, select “read only” and it will bypass that message.

There is one cost model for center-based child care and one model for family child care home settings.

The models function the same and use the same data sources, but are based in the differences in regulations and operations for these two types of care.

What can you learn from using this downloadable cost calculator?  

You can use this tool to explore a variety of answers, such as:  

  • The cost of child care, for different ages of children 
  • The cost of child care, at different levels of FOCUS 
  • How much revenue may be available for child care in a single program 

We're here to help!

ECECD provides a variety of resources and supports to help providers better understand the cost model and navigate the cost calculator. 

Stay Up to Date

ECECD, in partnership with Prenatal-to-Five Fiscal Strategies, provides updates on the cost model in its biweekly newsletter. 

Questions and Support

Need more assistance? If you have questions or want to request individualized support in using the tool, we can help! 

Presentations and Resources

Cost Model Materials Library