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Early Childhood secretary lays out plans for increased funding

Ketut Subiyanto

New Mexico voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that will start funneling $230 million more to early childhood education. That money won’t be seen for a while, but theEarly Childhood and Care Department has set a five-year plan to build a more robust workforce and provide competitive salaries in order to sustain the state’s early childhood education sector.

Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky told lawmakers Monday that she prioritizes starting education services at birth ensuring all children entering kindergarten have the skills to be successful, making sure families are enrolled in services, interagency collaboration, improving transparency, and making data available to the public.

She said that by 2027 an additional 20,000 families will receive affordable high-quality early childhood care and education.

"We know that when children — when we reach them early and we reach them with good interventions — so many of the issues that we see coming into our kindergarten and first grade classrooms could have been ameliorated if that family had been connected," Groginsky said.

The hope is that the funds will help pull the state from its 50th ranking in child-well being. However, the new money from the constitutional amendment won’t be kicking in until fiscal year 2024 at the earliest. Meantime, the department is asking lawmakers to use money from the general fund to sustain programs funded by federal relief money.

Secretary Groginsky said that early childhood programs need support and this general fund money could help recruit and retain professionals and support programs like home visiting and screening for autism.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.