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Tale of Two States

Transforming Child Care in New Mexico and Alabama

This blueprint tells the tale of two states and how each are defying expectations within the realm of early childhood policy. Policymakers and legislators from both sides of the aisle, advocates, community organizers, parents, and philanthropists can borrow from the work of New Mexico and Alabama to expand access to quality child care.

New Mexico is on the road to making child care a public good, like public education, and working to increase access to high-quality affordable child care for all families. Alabama’s goal is to build and expand access to quality, affordable child care to more families.

New Mexico and Alabama have been successful in expanding access to quality child care because the states’ leaders have been thoughtful in laying the groundwork for outcome-driven policy change and well-sequenced legislation, appropriations, and policy reforms. Based on the trajectories in New Mexico and Alabama, the road to a high-quality equitable child care system in any state shall likely cover:

  • Incorporating feedback from parents, child care educators, and child care providers
  • Using research and evaluation to define goals and outcomes and provide stable ground on which funders, policymakers, and stakeholders can stand
  • Building bipartisan legislative support
  • Building a big tent to move toward shared goals
  • Understanding the local, regional, and state context and using it to win
  • Strengthening the infrastructure for legislative success, which includes developing a strong policy framework and institutionalizing the issue
  • Establishing accountability measures and using rigorous data to highlight outcomes and results of government spending
  • Forming a well-coordinated governance system for early childhood and education
  • Securing stable and predictable funding sources
  • Building capacity of the child care system and advancing the child care workforce, which includes:
    • Providing opportunities for apprenticeships and mentorships
    • Supporting higher education for current and future child care professionals
    • Offering higher wages or stipends for child care educators
  • Expanding access to affordable child care, which includes:
    • Paying child care providers, or operators, for actual cost of quality child care
    • Expanding eligibility to families living at or below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level
    • Assisting parents with child care co-payments
  • Promoting all of these new opportunities to families, educators, and providers
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