After more than a decade of efforts by activists, New Mexico became the first state to create a permanent fund for child care on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022. The ballot initiative was approved by more than 70% of voters and amends the state constitution, spending nearly $150 million a year on early learning.
The fund will make child care more accessible and affordable to families that need it and increase wages for workers; child care workers currently earn some of the lowest wages in the nation.
This amendment is an important development, especially as Congress has been unable to address the needs of families on a national scale. The House-passed Build Back Better reconciliation bill included funding for a new nation-wide child care program that would lower the cost of care, raise wages for workers, and expand accessibility, particularly in “child care deserts.” When negotiations fell apart on that bill, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) redesigned a more modest proposal that increased funding and made improvements to the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), but even this proposal did not make it into the final reconciliation package, the Inflation Reduction Act.
Both the House and Senate versions of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill include a $1 billion increase in funding to the CCDBG; this funding is critical but insufficient to address the crisis facing families and child care and early learning facilities.