Action Alert: Support expanding access to Child Care Assistance!

One of the best ways to help hard-working parents keep their jobs and stay in school is by providing help with the exorbitant costs of child care. The Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) has proposed rules that would make New Mexico’s Child Care Assistance Program accessible to more families.

You can help make these changes by submitting comments to ECECD supporting the changes.

The proposed rules would end ineffective and burdensome requirements that force single parents to assign child support enforcement rights to the state to qualify for child care assistance. The process is so burdensome and fruitless that most parents choose to simply forgo much needed childcare along with employment and work opportunities. Complying with child support enforcement rights can also be dangerous when the absent parent was abusive or antagonizes the custodial parent.

The regulations also make child care more accessible and affordable by:

  • Making it easier to qualify by not counting certain income;
  • Eliminating the requirement of applying in-person at a child care office;
  • Granting three months of benefits to families who are searching for work (Currently, families have to be employed or in school to qualify);
  • Extending eligibility to families pursuing education in graduate school.

Tell the ECECD that you support these positive changes to the Child Care Assistance program.

1) Speak out at the public hearing. Give public comment on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. The hearing will take place via internet and telephone due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. To access the hearing by telephone call: 1-346-248-7799 and enter access code 9743902 4249. To access the hearing via the internet go to https://zoom.us/j/97439024249 and enter meeting code 974 3902 4249#.

2) Submit written public comments. Submit written public comments no later than January 6, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. by email to ECECD-ECS-PublicComment@state.nm.us with the subject line “8.15.2 NMAC Public Comment.” You can also submit comments by first class mail to P.O. Drawer 5169, Santa Fe, NM 87502-5169, or hand delivered to the Old PERA building at 1120 Paseo de Peralta on January 6, 2021 from 1:00p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

3) What you might include in your written or oral comments:

a) Say you support the proposed regulations.

  • I support the proposed rules, because they will expand access to child care assistance and increase affordability of the program.

b) Explain why child care assistance is important to you or your community.

  • Working families need access to affordable childcare they can trust to ensure their children have a safe space to learn while the parents are working to further their education or participate in the workforce.
  • Every working parent should be able to access quality child care without worrying about sacrificing basic needs like food and rent.
  • We know that the earliest years in children’s lives are the most important in their development and lay the foundation for all that is to come. That is why it’s so important that all working families be able to access affordable childcare that they can trust.

c) Explain how the proposed regulations will impact you or your community.

  • Child support requirements are burdensome to administer, have few benefits for families and put domestic violence survivors in danger. Other states have eliminated these requirements.
  • Child care is unaffordable for low income families, because the program has high copays. The federal government recommends that families pay no more than 7% of their income on child care so that is affordable. New Mexico should eliminate co-pays for families below 100% of the federal poverty level and make them affordable for other families.
  • It will be easier to find a job if childcare is available when families are looking for work.
  • Eliminating the requirement to submit applications in-person will lower burdens on applicants and increases child care accessibility.

You can find the full text of the proposed rules here: http://164.64.110.134/nmac/nmregister/xxxi/ECECDnotice_xxxi22.html