New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky made a stop in Alamogordo on May 12 as part of her 2022 spring tour.
The tour was originally planned for 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19.
Groginsky’s stop in Alamogordo included a public listening session at the Alamogordo Public Schools Administration Building.
“This is such a pleasure to be here,” Groginsky said. “We appreciate you opening up your school for us and for all of the community to come out.”
Groginsky spoke of the April 28 announcement by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on eligibility expansion for free childcare. The expansion makes free childcare available to qualifying families who make up to 400% of the federal poverty level which is currently $ 27,750 for a family of four.
This means that if a household of four people make about $ 111,000 a year, then that household may qualify for free childcare through the State of New Mexico.
“Families are struggling and our childcare providers are struggling and so we said we are going to have free childcare in the state of New Mexico,” Groginsky said. “We have free college now. We have free K-12 public education. And why wouldn’t we when we know this is the most critical and rapid period of development.”
A news release from the Governor’s office noted that “beginning May 1, all families enrolled in the state’s Childcare Assistance Program will no longer owe copays for child care services, making child care cost-free.”
There was also a stipend for those working towards their early childhood degrees at New Mexico-accredited higher learning institutions. These stipends are up to $ 2,000 per semester.
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Those in the audience for the listening session included representatives from Children in Need of Services (CHiNS), Children’s World Child Development Center, Zia Therapy Center, Alamogordo Public Schools teachers and administrators and other child development centers in Alamogordo.
Many commenters expressed positive views of how the Early Childhood Education and Care Department has helped them since the department’s inception in 2020, including improved communication and ease of access. Commenters also noted that ECEDC was sensitive to the challenges child development centers faced both prior and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Groginsky moved to New Mexico in 2019 after having most recently been Assistant Superintendent of Early Learning for the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
The Early Childhood Education and Care Department, or ECEDC, was established in 2019 by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature. The Department was officially launched on July 1, 2020.
“The Department’s aim is to create a more cohesive, equitable, and effective early childhood system in New Mexico,” the ECEDC website states. “That means coordinating a continuum of programs from prenatal to five — and ensuring that families in every corner of the state can access the services they need.”
For more information about the Early Childhood Education Care Department visit the ECED website at www.nmececd.org or call 800-32-1321.
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