Childcare experts remain hopeful amidst increasing challenges

As the child care industry grapples with a financial crisis due to the depletion of federal COVID-19 emergency funds, early childhood experts shared their insights and predictions for the challenges ahead during a webinar hosted by The Hunt Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving education policy. 

Angela Garcia, CEO and owner of the Toy Box Early Learning and Child Care Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico, expressed optimism about the future of child care in the state. She highlighted the recent approval of a permanent fund for early childhood education, including child care, by New Mexico voters. The state also became the first to establish universal pre-K as a constitutional right. Garcia acknowledged the challenges currently faced by the child care system in New Mexico but emphasized that advocacy, education, and partnership have played a significant role in the state’s progress, showcasing potential out-of-the-box solutions.

New Mexico’s approach to funding early childhood education differs from other states. It relies on the state’s Permanent School Fund, which generates revenue from oil, gas, and mineral production. Investments made with this money also generate additional income, according to New Mexico Voices for Children, an advocacy group involved in securing the fund’s passage.

However, many child care providers and families across the country face significant funding concerns. The expiration of $23.97 billion in American Rescue Plan funds for child care stabilization grants on September 30, 2023, has raised concerns about access to child care. The closure of about 70,000 child care programs and a loss of access for approximately 3.2 million children were predicted by The Century Foundation last fall.

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