NM Families Start School Year with Extra Money for Child Care
Monday, August 2, 2021
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Pandemic fallout still has U.S. states clawing their way back to normalcy, and New Mexico believes its decision to provide more child care assistance will help families and the economy recover faster.
An expansion that basically doubles eligibility for child care financial assistance was announced by the governor last month. It sets aside about $320 million from the American Rescue Plan for child care assistance, and overhauls how day care and preschool providers are reimbursed.
Amber Wallin - deputy director with the group New Mexico Voices for Children - said it's a game-changer for the state's youngest children, and the workers who care for them.
"This is going to mean that about 20,000 more families will now see crucial relief in affording the enormous costs of high-quality child care," said Wallin.
As of July 1, families who earn up to 350% of the federal poverty level - that's about $93,000 a year for a family of four, up from $54,000 - are now eligible for child care aid.
Teachers and school staff in Albuquerque return to classrooms this Wednesday, with students set to begin classes the following Wednesday.
New Mexico's allocation of federal pandemic-relief money to help middle-class families pay for child care is the largest of any state in the nation, according to research by the Associated Press.
Wallin noted that families of color were especially hard-hit by school closures and other economic impacts from the pandemic and now, should have more peace of mind.
"They're able to better afford housing needs and ensure they can buy their kids back-to-school clothes," said Wallin. "But also it's helping them go back to work, afford necessities and helping our economy get back on track as well."
In November 2022, New Mexico voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment to increase withdrawals from the Land Grand Permanent Fund. Much of the revenue would fund childhood services, with the rest directed to K-12 public schools.
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