Early childhood advocates in New Mexico
want $170 million annually
from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, primarily to expand home visiting, pre-K, and child care programs. Their plans for spending this money might raise more questions than they answer.Senate Joint Resolution 3
, introduced by state Sen. Michael Sanchez, would place the question on the ballot and let state voters decide. A poll of 603 New Mexicans in 2011
found 71% favored the position of early childhood education advocates.
Last November the New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership outlined a plan
to “address the full continuum of supports for children ages zero through five and their families.” Their proposal, “at full implementation,” would cost $73 million annually.
Last month, Invest in Kids Now, the primary coalition advocating for an expansion of early childhood education, released a white paper
, which calculated need, current funding, and state budget proposals. They called for spending an additional $150 million annually.
New Mexico will spend between $166 million
and $195 million
(some portion counts as federal dollars) this year on early childhood programs. Invest in Kids Now has most recently proposed to effectively double the state’s budget for early childhood programs.
The state will spend almost $3.2 million this year for home visits with 795 clients
. According to figures from the Legislative Finance Committee, this represents an average cost per client of $3,996.
NMECDP wanted to spend $23 million on home visiting
, in the fifth year of program implementation. They expected to reach 3,499 families, in the final year of their proposal, at a cost of $6,681 per client.
When Invest in Kids Now proposed spending $150 million on early children education, they allocated $38 million annually for home visiting programs
. They estimated home visiting client costs of “$4,000/year for full service year” and “$2,000 for partial service year.”
The New Mexico legislature appropriated $19.2 million this year for state-funded pre-K programs
. It runs for a half-day and expects to serve 6,569 4-year-olds. LFC figures indicate an average cost to the state of $2,928 per student.
NMECDP recommended spending $12.6 million, after five years, for an “estimated 4,300 additional children” in state pre-K programs
. This works out to an average of $2,930 per student.
Under the previous Invest in Kids Now proposal
, $59.4 million out of $150 million each year went toward state-funded pre-K programs. These advocates expected to enroll 70% of 4-year-olds not already attending certain programs.
Invest in Kids Now reported 31% of 4-year-olds attended Head Start or special education
. However, the National Institute for Early Education Research found only 23% of 4-year-olds in New Mexico attended Head Start or special education in 2011
The Invest in Kids Now white paper variously describes a 70% uptake rate of 4-year-olds “not served by Pre K, Head Start, or Special education programs” and “those who are not in Head Start or special education.”Census 2010
counted 29,021 4-year-olds in New Mexico. Given these various discrepancies, Invest in Kids Now apparently planned to enroll between 10,970 and 15,642 additional 4-year-olds in state-funded pre-K programs.
The cost per pre-K student, as envisioned in the original Invest in Kids Now proposal, might have ranged from $5,415 to $3,797. With their latest proposal calling for $170 million, the average cost for each pre-K student could reach $6,317.
The Invest in Kids Now white paper
compares state-funded pre-K programs with the “$7,650/child/year” New Mexico spends on “K-12 funding.” The state’s expanded pre-K program would likely remain half-day, since the white paper does not present future pre-K as full-day.
A quote from an author who said the existing state-funded pre-K program in New Mexico, which costs $2,928 per student, “produces consistent benefits” and “positive impacts” for its 4-year-old participants, appeared in the Invest in Kids Now white paper
And yet this “higher level of funding,” Invest in Kids Now said
, “would allow pre K programs to build in evidence-based elements for greater systematic parent engagement/education strategies, higher staffing ratios, and other resources needed to produce excellent results.”
With both state and federal funds, New Mexico planned to spend, on average, $3,960 for each client who qualified for childcare assistance
this year. In other words, the average qualifying New Mexico families would receive this amount in reimbursement subsidies.
The proposal from NMECDP, with “quality enhancements” during the fifth year, amounts to an average childcare subsidy of $3,350
for each family. Invest in Kids Now projects an “average cost/child/month” of $323 for childcare assistance
, or $3,876 annually.
New Mexico currently spends $87.1 million on childcare subsidies
. NMECDP would eventually spend an additional $32.4 million
. Invest in Kids Now, under its $150 million plan
, would devote $22.5 million more to the state’s annual childcare assistance budget.