Kids playing under multi-colored tarp outside

If Caring For Children is Part of Your Life, It Could Also Be Your Career

Kids playing under multi-colored tarp outside

Updated December 23, 2021

If Caring For Children is Part of Your Life, It Could Also Be Your Career

New scholarships, funding, and other benefits can help you become an early childhood educator

We’re here to help you find your way into getting paid for caring for kids.

If you’ve always cared for children, but never thought of it as a job, it may be time to reconsider the value of your work. And if you’re looking for a job that makes a difference in your community, you could hardly choose a more important career. 

Caring for children is a lot of things. It can be sweet and the absolute best (snuggling up with a giggling toddler to read The Book with No Pictures for the third time through, or counting a baby’s toes). It is also sometimes smelly, and almost always sticky. At its best or its worst, it’s work. And that work is so important. 

As a parent or caregiver, you’re already (and always) doing this work. But did you know it is something you could get paid for? New Mexico needs more caregivers to keep our young children safe, supported, and ready to succeed. Right now, the state has many supports available for those who want to turn their love of children into an essential and rewarding career. What would that look like? You have options!

Get Paid (by the State) to Care for Children in Your Home
Do you provide care in your home for children who are not your own? There is help and support for that! If you become registered with the state, you can unlock financial reimbursement for the care you provide. Getting registered as a home child care provider involves a couple of steps, including a background check and a home inspection, but this process opens many doors!

Plus! Starting in August of 2021, the state raised the income cap for child care assistance, so many more families now qualify for assistance to cover your compensation as a home child care provider. And, the state has also substantially raised the rates paid to home-based providers. The new rate is designed to not just cover the bare expenses of caring for children, but to fund a base salary for the care provider as well. After all, child care is vital work. 

Reimbursements for Healthy Food
Child care providers who become registered or licensed with the state can also receive reimbursement for healthy meals and snacks they serve through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Having growing kids in your home can mean a lot of grocery shopping, and CACFP can help you provide nutritious and healthy meals to kids in your care.

Pay Supplements and Scholarships
Because early childhood education is important, skilled work, New Mexico is also offering programs to increase pay and support caregivers who are building new skills. For early childhood educators in all settings (homes, centers, and schools), the state is offering wage supplements to increase pay for early childhood educators. The supplement amount increases with more education and training, and there’s also a one-time bonus of $1,500 for early childhood educators who are certified bilingual. Helpful details on the wage supplements are available here. Want to grow your early childhood career (and supplement amount) through additional degrees and training? New Mexico offers scholarships for early childhood educators who are enrolled in school.


Want to Work at a Center? 
If you like to care for children, but not in your own home, many child care centers throughout New Mexico are currently hiring. Search for job listings in your area, and remember to ask whether the center offers discounted child care for employees’ children. Some do!

The Value of Caregiving
Why are early childhood educators so important? 

It has become more and more clear that children’s experiences in the early years of life make a big difference later on. So by caring for and educating young children, you can make your community better for years to come. Home-based care has some special added benefits, too: It’s flexible, it serves families with diverse language and cultural needs, and it works well in very small or rural communities. 

And don’t forget, all of this has a real dollar value in the economy! If the COVID-19 pandemic showed us one thing, it showed us that even a very sturdy couch can be destroyed when used as a pillow fort for many months. But if it showed us a serious thing, it was that the economy doesn’t work without its educators and caregivers. People—and especially women—have often provided caregiving for free out of a sense of love and duty to their communities. It’s time to think about valuing that work as the career it has always been. 

Inspired to get started?
For details on becoming a registered or licensed home-based provider, click here

For more information on scholarships and wage supplements, click here

Special thank you to Kate Noble and Rebecca Baran-Rees of Growing Up New Mexico for their contributions to this article. 

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