Washington, D.C. — Last year, New Mexico established the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD), making it the fourth state in the country to create a state agency dedicated to the education and care of young children. Last week, the New Mexico Legislature approved a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would create a dedicated funding source for early childhood programs, investing more than $1 billion over the course of the next eight years. The proposed change to the state’s constitution will now go before voters in upcoming statewide elections. Laura Dallas McSorley, director of Early Childhood Education, released the following statement:
Early childhood programs have long been underfunded, but under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s (D) leadership, New Mexico is leading the nation in making early childhood education a priority. If affirmed by the state’s voters, this amendment to the state constitution would make funding permanent and inject more than $1 billion in state support into the early childhood system over the next eight years. These resources would play a critical role in helping the state increase the number of slots available to New Mexico families with young children, subsidize the cost of attendance, and support the state’s early education workforce, which is overwhelmingly made up of women and Latinos.
The state’s commitment to the education of young children is particularly noteworthy in that it comes as many states are confronting budget shortfalls that often put education funding at all levels on the chopping block. It also reflects an understanding among New Mexico’s leaders about how important access to high-quality, affordable child care is in supporting parents’ labor force participation and the state’s greater economic vitality. New Mexicans should welcome the state’s leadership in this area by voting to affirm the legislature’s passage of the amendment.
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