Child advocates some 12 years ago sparked the movement to get a permanent funding source for child care enshrined in the state’s constitution. It was a long-game strategy for a coalition of non-profit, grassroots groups, including New Mexico Voices For Children.
Advocates for such a bill counter it will protect workers, increase morale and cut down on the number of workers who leave the workforce on disability because they cannot otherwise deal with serious health issues. Jacob Vigil, senior research and policy analyst for the nonprofit advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children, said paid leave offers workers stability and leads to “more loyalty to employers.”
The recent election tells us a great deal about how committed New Mexicans are to our children and their families. New Mexico voters have spoken loud and clear — and they want the highest quality early care and education programs fully supported and available to all.
Child-care advocates in New Mexico have tried for more than a decade to secure this money. The fight began in 2011, when a group called New Mexico Voices for Children proposed tapping into the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to pay for early child care and education programs.
“If we want to continue this incredible progress,” said Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, the money is the way to do it. “It means we can continue things just like that.” Lujan Grisham herself has said she wants to use money from the fund to make universal, free child care permanent.
“In a very concrete way by improving teacher salaries and resources for all the wrap-around services, this amendment will help support and it’s a really important step forward in a bigger sense because New Mexico voters are showing up for teachers and communities,” Wallin told NM Political Report.
Although these are separate data points — deaths with underlying conditions, versus mortality rates by race and ethnicity — they are “absolutely connected,” said Emily Wildau, research and policy analyst at New Mexico Voices for Children.
"Constitution Amendment #1 will be a real game changer for our state. For too long, we have ranked really low in many measures of child well-being," Vigil said.
Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said issues in education funding go beyond any one election, and officials and New Mexicans need to think about how they can best set up future generations. “We have massive needs in our state and in our schools, in our families that are really generational problems to solve. They’re not election-cycle problems to solve.”
“We know learning begins at birth. Why not expand the idea of education from kindergarten down to birth? And use the Land Grant Permanent Fund as the source of funding for early childcare funding? That was the original intent,” he said.