The newly expanded Child Care Assistance Program subsidizes the cost of child care for families at or below 400% of the federal poverty level that are working and/or in school- $9,250 a month/$111,000 annually or less for a family of four. Beginning May 1 and running through June 30, 2023, all families enrolled in the state’s Childcare Assistance Program will no longer owe copays for child care services. The funds for the current period of expansion come from the American Rescue Plan. Continued funding would come from the Early Childhood Trust Fund and the Land Grant Permanent Fund, if approved by voters in the November general election.
Who can apply for child care assistance?
Any parent or legal guardian who is working, going to school, actively looking for a job or participating in a job training program can apply for help with child care expenses. They must be a resident of the state of New Mexico.
How to apply:
1. Apply in person at a state Child Care office, including 3401 Pan American Freeway NE in Albuquerque, 4359 Jager Drive NE Ste A in Rio Rancho, and 750 Morris Road in Los Lunas. See nmececd.org/contact-us/ for additional offices. Or call a local Early Childhood Education and Care Department Child Care office to have the documents mailed to you.
2. Apply online at eligibility.ececd.state.nm.us.
3. Apply by submitting the application and all required documents by email to ChildCareAssistance@state.nm.us. Be careful with personally identifiable information.
Information and/or documents need to be submitted with the application. The complete list is on the website, and includes current proof of earned and unearned income, including child support; a school schedule, if applicable; verification of birth for applicant children; and proof of residency and contact information for the child care provider selected.
What income is counted for determining eligibility?
Countable income includes gross wages from employment, self-employment income, retirement/pensions, worker’s compensation, alimony, royalties, income from rental property and some Social Security benefits. Some income is exempt.
Need help finding a child care provider?
A search site is available at newmexicokids.org, or you can call (800) 691-9067. This can help you understand the voluntary Star rating system, the locations of centers and home providers, staff ratios, training and other items of importance to you as you select a provider.
Do all child care providers accept state payment?
According to the Child Care Services Bureau, most do, but not all. The availability of providers varies on the community and area of the community. A provider is not required to participate in the state program.
Does the state pay the provider directly?
Payment is made to the child care provider. According to NM Code R22.214.171.124-Payment for Services: The rates set are informed by a cost estimation model and include expenses for registration/educational fees per child, and child and family activities on behalf of clients. The amount of the payment is based on the age of the child and average number of hours per week needed per child during the certification period.
The department pays a differential rate according to the license or registration status of the provider; the national accreditation status of the provider, if applicable; and the Star level status of the provider, if applicable. In the case of a public health emergency, the department secretary may approve a differential rate be paid to licensed providers. The department pays a differential rate equivalent to 5%, 10% or 15% of the applicable full-time/part-time rate to providers who provide care during non-traditional hours.
Search online for N.M. Code § R 126.96.36.199 for further information.
Can a family member or friend be paid for child care?
Registered home care providers for four or fewer children, and who meet requirements, can be paid. Providers are usually related to the children in their care. See nmececd.org/child-care-licensing-and-registered-homes/ or call 1 (800) 832-1321 for more information.
Is NM working to get more child care providers?
The state Early Childhood Education and Care Department offers education “completion support” in the form of the Early Childhood Educator Student Success Grant, which provides a $2,000 stipend per semester for full-time students and up to $1,500 for part-time students. The grant is open and administered by the individual educational institutions in which students are enrolled.
ECECD has identified $10 million toward grants designed to expand the availability of child care in communities where it is needed most. Grant information will be released soon.