If Caring For Children is Part of Your Life, It Could Also Be Your Career
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! The new Developing Futures website has stories from eight early childhood professionals around the state, who have careers working with New Mexico’s youngest children. At that site, you can explore their stories, look for jobs in early childhood, and learn about benefits available to early childhood professionals in New Mexico.
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! The state has 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.
For Valeria Holloway, who is featured on the Developing Futures site, providing care in her home has become a lifelong passion. She offers child care and PreK in her Las Cruces home, and her child care has received the state’s highest 5-star rating, meaning she can get reimbursed at the highest level for the care she gives. “This is it, I found my calling,” she said. For her, the best thing about her job is the impact it has on kids in her community. “If we just catch them really early, we can change the trajectory of a child’s life.”
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 professionals in all settings (homes, centers, and schools), the state is offering wage supplements to increase their pay. 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.
Remember Valeria? She is finishing a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. It will be her fifth early childhood credential, after earning other certificates and degrees throughout her career. And she’s never had to pay tuition. “I haven’t paid for any of my college since I’ve been in early childhood education, ever,” she said. “Not one penny.”
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.
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. Valeria said she has never needed to advertise her services. Families hear about her from other families—or her existing families have more babies. By caring for children from the same families for many years, Valeria helps them get to a lot of special “firsts.”
“Watching children develop and grow from not talking to talking, not walking to walking, they just warm my heart,” she said. “My favorite thing about my job is that, most of my kids I’ve had since they were babies, and now I’ve graduated them and sent them off to kindergarten.”
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.