The state Early Childhood Education and Care Department opened applications Monday for one-time, $1,500 payments to child care workers in New Mexico.

The effort was hailed by Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky as a support for child care workers who provided services through the pandemic.

“These one-time payments are a small way we can recognize and celebrate the invaluable service they have provided to our communities,” she said in a news release.

The announcement comes on the heels of other multimillion-dollar investments from the department, including $157 million toward “stabilization” grants for local care centers and providers, as well as bonuses.

The payments are funded by nearly $18 million in pandemic relief funds awarded to the state. About 11,500 child care workers are estimated to be eligible, including administrators, teachers and support staff such as bus drivers and cooks.

It marks the second round of one-time payments the state has offered to child care workers in the pandemic. In 2020, the department offered $700 monthly payments for child care workers in April, May and June.

Karina Pizarro, a preschool teacher at a child care center in Albuquerque, said she’d applied for the previous payments and would be applying for the next one.

She said it’s been a strange time since the onset of the pandemic. A mother of three, she had to bring two of her kids to work with her while schools were closed and missed some days as infections spread in her workplace.



“It’s good, it’s a help, but it’s not what we want,” she said of the payments. “We don’t want to be getting incentive after incentive; we want a better wage.”

Pizarro said she makes $13 an hour. She has a social work degree from Mexico but said it doesn’t hold the same value in the U.S.

“Every dollar I’ve gotten an increase for, it has really been earned. It’s cost me a lot,” Pizarro said. “It’s a beautiful profession to be a teacher, and obviously I’ve had to educate myself.”

Pizarro started at $8.75 an hour five years ago and said she’s taken regular courses and is working toward her associate degree in the field.

She and others are calling for a minimum wage of $18 an hour for child care workers in New Mexico. Through the pandemic, she said, she’s seen two co-workers leave because of low pay and less qualified workers coming aboard for lower wages.

In September, Groginsky told The New Mexican child care workers could see a new statewide minimum wage of $12.10 an hour in the next year or two. Some in the field are paid $10 an hour.

In 2022, voters will decide on a ballot question that if approved would allow the state to tap the Land Grant Permanent Fund for funding early childhood programs and boosting child care workers’ wages.

(1) comment

Andrew Gaspar

“ Pizarro started at $8.75 an hour five years ago and said she’s taken regular courses and is working toward her associate degree in the field.

She and others are calling for a minimum wage of $18 an hour for child care workers in New Mexico. Through the pandemic, she said, she’s seen two co-workers leave because of low pay and less qualified workers coming aboard for lower wages.”

I can’t believe these two paragraphs are right next to each other without a hint of irony.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.