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State offers online child care resources

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In an attempt to help families find child care services while schools are operating in a remote or hybrid environment, state education agencies have created a new online resource with links to information, according to a joint statement from the three agencies.

The New Mexico Public Education and the Early Childhood Education and Care departments have joined with the Regional Education Cooperatives to provide a database of child care options that is searchable by county, ZIP code or school district.

Information is available at the Child Care Resource and Referral line, 800- 691-9067, and from the ECECD website at eligibility.ececd.state.nm.us.

The resource also can be found here.

The site also provides links to information and applications for child care assistance; information for people wanting to become a temporary child care provider; and information about how child care centers are staying safe during the COVID-19 emergency.

PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said in the joint statement that families that never needed child care before “may need it now due to remote learning.” The state, through this partnership, “is helping solve that problem so children get the supervision or care they need at any age.”

ECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky said families needing child care or supervision are not on their own. “We’re working hard to determine the extent and geography of those needs and to match families with qualified providers.”

And there are not as many qualified providers now as there were before the pandemic.

The New Mexico Child Care and Education Association recently warned that the pandemic has forced the closure of about half of all licensed child care programs in the state due to shrinking enrollments.

It wasn’t clear how many of those closures might be permanent, they said.

Before the pandemic, there were 740 child care centers, 232 child care homes and 106 school-age programs licensed in the state. They collectively provided 65,692 child care spaces, which have now been reduced to fewer than 32,850 spaces statewide, NMCCEA Treasurer Crystal Tapia said.

The decreased enrollments were a result of parents sheltering their children at home out of fear they may be exposed to the coronavirus, parents working out of their homes and having no need for child care and parents losing jobs and no longer being able to afford child care.

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