ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – State leaders are calling it a ‘game changer.’ Proposed regulation changes could expand access to high-quality childcare across the state.

“We have seen incredible impact on the lives of families across New Mexico,” said Early Childhood Education and Care Department Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. She’s talking about changes to expand access to childcare in the state, initiated by federal relief money for the pandemic.

In April 2022, the state expanded eligibility for childcare assistance for families earning up to 400 times the poverty level, which is about $120,000 a year for a family of four. It also waived parent co-pays, making childcare free for most New Mexico families.

“Families who are telling us, ‘I can save for their future. I can put a down payment on their house, I no longer have stress and worry, and I can actually take my child to care because I can afford it because it is available,'” said Secretary Groginsky.

She said 7,000 more kids are in care now than a year ago, but provisions are set to expire. Now, the department and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham are proposing regulation changes to continue access.

“Thousands of people across New Mexico are going to benefit from these policy changes,” said Secretary Groginksy.

The proposed changes include increasing the pay for providers to a floor rate of $15 per hour and notifying families and providers three months in advance if co-payments do come back. They also are revising the copayment structure.

“Any family under 185% of poverty will never have a co-payment again. The revised copayment structure is guaranteeing that for families in New Mexico forever,” said Secretary Groginsky. “We have revised it so that at the top end of 350% poverty, families are not going to pay any more than 5% of their gross monthly income.”

She said the funding comes from voters approving using some of the state’s land grant permanent fund, bringing in $140 million into the department’s budget. She said the department is also getting money from the early childhood trust fund created by the state legislature in 2021.

“We’re fortunate here in New Mexico that we’re able to have the resources because of the wisdom of the legislature, the governor, and the voters and the advocates out there in the community who said this is an investment, what we’re calling, a generational, historic and generational opportunity for New Mexico,” said Secretary Groginsky.

People can give public comments on the proposed changes online or at the meeting next month:

June 22, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
PERA Building, Apodaca Hall (2nd floor)
1120 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe, NM