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Senator Michael Padilla Files Bill to Focus Early Childhood Efforts
By New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership
New Early Childhood Education and Care Department Will Oversee More than $325 Million
New Mexico Senator Michael Padilla filed a bill on Monday for the 2019 Legislative Session to create the Early Childhood Education and Care Department. The bill is supported by the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership and the Albuquerque and Santa Fe Chambers of Commerce. It streamlines early childhood operations to provide a continuum of care for young children from birth until they enter kindergarten.
“Creation of an Early Childhood Education and Care Department will help New Mexico drive a consistent and accountable method for closing the achievement gap and building a stronger economy. From birth to a child’s fifth birthday, where this department will focus, is when science has proven that the building blocks are laid for future success in life,” said Senator Michael Padilla.
The bill transfers into the department existing programs which serve children and families from birth until five years old (when children enter kindergarten). Programs which transfer are currently spread across the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Public Education Department (PED); there will also be oversight of Medicaid for home-visiting programs which are currently in the Human Services Department (HSD). Together these programs have a total budget of more than $325 million in FY19. This budget includes both Federal and State funding.
“These are community driven recommendations based on data gathered from New Mexico communities including Native American tribes and pueblos. We all want to ensure that every child in New Mexico has the best opportunity to succeed in school, work, and life, and we need a structure to sustain and account for public investments,” said Katherine Freeman, President and CEO of the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership.
The New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership (NMECDP) has done recent community outreach over six months to understand the realities in early childhood programs across the state, and produced a Community Outreach Report with policy recommendations based on input from communities. The number one need identified through this process is better alignment of early childhood goals, programs, and services.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in early childhood over the years,” said Diane Denish, Former Lieutenant Governor and Policy Advisor to the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership, “now it’s time to align these programs and make sure we have common goals and unified leadership to do the best we can for New Mexico’s children.”
NMECDP commissioned a poll as part of the outreach efforts and found that 80% of New Mexico voters said it’s important to have “better coordination between the various agencies that provide early childhood services.” Also, Nobel Laureate economist, Dr. James Heckman has found that, “high-quality birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children can deliver a 13% per child, per year return on investment through better outcomes in education, health, social behaviors and employment, reducing taxpayer costs down the line and preparing the country’s workforce for a competitive future.”
The bill to create the Early Childhood Education and Care Department is based on bills from previous years sponsored by Senator Michael Padilla and Senator Howie Morales, now Lieutenant Governor elect
On Wednesday, December 19 at 230pm, Senator Michael Padilla will host a press conference at Christina Kent Early Childhood Center. He will be joined by Katherine Freeman, and Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish of the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership, and business leaders, as well as Allison Hendricks-Smith, Executive Director of Christina Kent Early Childhood Center, plus parents and young children. Light refreshments will be served.
WHAT: Announcement of Details for Early Childhood Education and Care Department Bill