BY ELIZABETH GROGINSKY
Early Childhood Education & Care Department
It has been just over a month since the official launch of the New Mexico Early Childhood Education & Care Department (ECECD). As I reflect on our recent work and where we are headed in the coming months, I am excited about the opportunity we now have to transform our early childhood system and make the changes New Mexico needs.
Earlier this year we completed a comprehensive, statewide Early Childhood Needs Assessment, (Spanish version here) which includes county-specific data for children prenatal to age five. The Early Childhood Needs Assessment was used by community partners to support efforts such as the development of their New Mexico Prek applications; currently, it is being used to inform the work of the SB22 Advisory Council and the state’s Pritzker Children’s Initiative. Additionally, the Early Childhood Needs Assessment will inform ECECD’s application to the Office of Head Start for a statewide Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grant. If awarded, this grant will help elevate the Department’s effort to integrate and expand Early Head Start services through high-quality child care programs throughout New Mexico. We hope that you, too, will find ways to use this crucial resource.
The statewide Early Childhood Needs Assessment weaves together the rich input we have heard from families, early childhood professionals, businesses, elected leaders, and other community partners – and it is now being used to develop a three-year statewide Early Childhood Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan will incorporate the insights and perspectives of our Native American communities and provide additional detail on efforts to strengthen New Mexico’s cradle-to-career pipeline.
In collaboration with the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership (NMECDP), we’ve engaged hundreds of New Mexicans in the development of the New Mexico Early Childhood Strategic Plan, including goals and objectives. Now, we are finalizing these goals and objectives and identifying the actions we will take to improve outcomes for children prenatal to age five. I am so energized at the chance to work with a committed, knowledgeable team – coordinated through the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet – to finalize and publish the plan later this fall. By coordinating and aligning our work at the community and state level, we will ensure that families and young children in New Mexico have every chance at success.
Many of you have spent years – and even decades – advocating for New Mexico families and young children. You know what we know: that investments in high-quality early childhood experiences make a big difference in the overall health and wellbeing of communities. We need all of you – so please, stay healthy and engaged. We look forward to a fruitful journey ahead.