New Mexico expands program that could make child care free for many families | Business

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(NEW YORK) — New Mexico is expanding a program that removes the cost of child care, a move that could make child care free for many families in the Southwestern state.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s announcement last Thursday said the state’s Department of Early Childhood Education and Care estimates more than 30,000 additional families will be able to take advantage of the child care assistance program. New Mexico children starting in May, doubling the number of families already participating.

“As of May 1, 2022, all families enrolled in the state’s child care assistance program will no longer be required to co-pay for child care, making child care free,” indicates the ad.

The announcement from the New Mexico Department of Early Childhood Education and Care says the expansion will continue through June 30, 2023.

Families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level, or $111,000 for a family of four, may qualify for a child care co-payment waiver. The US Department of Health and Human Services determines poverty levels, and for 2022 the federal department has set the poverty guideline for the District of Columbia and the 48 contiguous states at $27,750 for a family of four. people.

The cost of childcare in the United States is a significant burden on American families.

New 2019 survey data from the HHS Administration for Children and Families shows that many families spend between 10% and 20% of their household budget on child care, including preschool . Amid the pandemic, many women have also stopped working to care for their children at home, which has slowed the return of employees to the national labor market.

In New Mexico specifically, the Economic Policy Institute think tank estimates the average cost of child care to be around $8,617 per year.

Child care workers are also in short supply, and along with expanding co-payment waivers for families, New Mexico will also offer stipends to students pursuing higher education in early education.

Eligible students can apply for $2,000 each semester to help pay for their education at a New Mexico college or university.

The state is also promising $10 million in grants to child care facilities to build or expand child care centers in underserved communities.

New Mexicans interested in joining the Child Care Assistance Program can visit the “Am I Eligible?” ” of State. for more information.

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Christy J. Olson