For 10 years they said it couldn’t be done. They said the idea was too big, too risky, too audacious. Ten years ago, when advocates came up with a plan to tap a small portion of the Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood education, they were met with all these criticisms and more. But the people of New Mexico are tired of others telling them we can’t afford to build a better future for their children.
After 10 years of conservative politicians telling them “no,” New Mexico voters went to the polls last November and overwhelmingly said “yes” to creating a stable and predictable source of funding for early education and care.
The day has arrived when New Mexico families begin to feel the full impact of that vote in their lives. The Land Grant Permanent Fund has enabled the largest expansion of New Mexico pre-K in state history, providing nearly $100 million to pre-K programs throughout the mixed-delivery system of community-based centers, home-based programs, public schools and Head Start/tribal Head Start centers. This has expanded state pre-K capacity for 3,000 additional 3- and 4-year-olds, including over 500 new tribal pre-K slots, and significantly increased instructional hours across the board.
The Land Grant Permanent Fund also has expanded funding for home-visiting programs, which provide vital support for families, prenatally through age 5. Home visitors visit families in the convenience of their own home to help equip them with parenting skills, information on safe sleep, lactation and nutrition support, finding child care, preparing for school, and more.
Best of all, it’s completely free for all New Mexico families regardless of income and is proven to improve child safety and healthy development. This amazing program is now available to more families across more counties throughout New Mexico, with a planned expansion to 2,000 additional families in fiscal year 2024 alone.