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Gov. backs plan to create early childhood agency

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday talks about her decision to remove most of the New Mexico National Guard troops from the Mexican border. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Greg Sorber/Journal file)

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is backing a state Senate bill that would create the Early Childhood Education and Care Department.

Senate Bill 22, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, was passed by the Senate Rules Committee without opposition Wednesday.

“A child’s early years of life are formative and constitute the foundation for his or her future health, development and scholastic achievement,” Lujan Grisham wrote in a statement. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure New Mexico’s children are afforded the educational opportunities and resources necessary for success.”

The department would assume control of all early childhood programs now spread among four departments: Children, Youth and Families; Public Education; Health; and Human Services.

“This consolidation of existing childhood services will better serve New Mexico’s children because they will receive a continuum of care from birth to age 5 and enable the state to lay the groundwork for a successful future that encompasses our values as New Mexicans” the governor said.

The bill calls for a $2.5 million appropriation to help establish the early childhood department.

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