ECECD FY24 budget has ambitious goals for building a world class early childhood education and care system

From New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department Press Release of December 15, 2022

SANTA FE – Today, the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) presented its Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget before the Legislative Finance Committee, requesting a budget of $453,696,000, an increase of $28,365,300 over FY23. Of the proposed budget increase, $16,000,000 comes from the Early Childhood Trust Fund (ECTF); $7,307,000 from General Fund; and $5,058,300 from federal revenues.  

ECECD is also requesting $153,843,900 in one-time General Fund special appropriations for FY24 to maintain and expand vital early childhood programs and services that ensure young children and families have a strong foundation for growth and development. These one-time special appropriations will serve as a funding bridge, spanning the gap until annual disbursements from the ECTF and Land Grant Permanent Fund are fully realized. 

“These are the kinds of smart, evidence-based investments New Mexico needs to ensure that all young children and families in our state are thriving,” said ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “We’re making child care affordable for families, securing a professional wage for the early childhood workforce, expanding access to vital programs and services, and building a family-centered early childhood system that will support the growth, development, and well-being of generations to come.” 

Highlights from the FY24 budget request include: 

  • $125 million (special) to support access to affordable child care and increase the overall rate for child care to support more competitive wages for the early childhood workforce 
  • Continues expanded eligibility for child care assistance for New Mexico families at or below 400% of Federal Poverty Level ($111k/year for a family of four), and a restructured parent copay schedule that ensures that no family pays more than seven percent of their income on child care. As of July 2022, 22,246 New Mexico children are receiving free child care through ECECD’s Child Care Assistance program 
  • Increases child care subsidy rates that reflect a $15/hr wage floor for entry level early childhood staff and $20.74/hr for lead teachers 
  • $20 million (special) to expand New Mexico PreK to an additional 1,000 three and four-year-olds and enhance quality by increasing rates in all settings 
  • $8 million to nearly triple funding for Home Visiting services, allowing New Mexico to serve an additional 2,500 families 
  • $3 million to continue the support for 15 local early childhood system building coalitions, representing 12 counties, and expand coalitions to five more counties 
  • Increasing Tribal early childhood investment to $2,289,100 (up from $1,539,100 in FY23) 
  • Doubling investment in Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation to $2 million, which will reach 2,000 children served in 160 infant and toddler classrooms 

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.