NM Child care providers rally for "Day Without Child Care"
At least five child care centers in New Mexico closed on Monday in solidarity with other providers across the country in an effort that was called the Day Without Child Care.
The aim of this was to dramatize how parents, employers and the broader community will be impacted if preschool teachers continue to leave the profession due to poverty wage compensation.
In Albuquerque, community members gathered at Avengers Learning Center to rally support behind this effort.
Center owners Cesar Ramos and Karen Meija said they decided to host this event to bring attention to the workload they and their employees face for the little compensation they make.
“We are just trying to get better things for daycares and daycare workers, to make an impact on the community, that’s why we’re closed today, everybody closed today so they see what happens when we close, when everybody closes, they need us. Because the state has a lot of money and the salary is really, really minimal and I work too hard for that little money. It’s a lot of responsibility for that little.”
This rally comes as the state’s Early Childhood Education and Care Department’s (ECECD) program that waved child care assistance copays is set to expire on June 30th.
This initially expanded access to more families across the state, but with the end now approaching, many families are starting to feel the anxiety surrounding the possibility of shouldering these costs once again.
On Monday, ECECD announced that this program, along with another that would set the minimum wages for early childhood employees to $15 an hour, is in play for the foreseeable future.
But OLÉ member Ivdyel Natachu, who has been an early educator for 17 years says the wages are just one part of what educators need.
“We need healthcare, we need retirement, any benefits that can benefit the families for early childhood educators because we have been receiving and earning poverty wages for so long that we are ready to earn those higher wages.”
The recent passing for Constitutional Amendment 1 signaled a historic victory for early childhood education and care programs, as it allocated $145 million from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, but teachers are building support for the state to fund a wage and career ladder that would provide more professional wages.