Got Kids? 4 New Mexico Programs to Save Your Family Money in 2024
Raising children is expensive. The cost of child care alone is enough to strain many families’ budgets. Add rent, utilities, and groceries (for that growing 4-year-old who suddenly wants third helpings), and it’s easy to find your budget stretched thin. But there’s help. Federal and state programs for families in New Mexico can help you afford food, internet, housing, and child care.
Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help by highlighting the four programs that can save New Mexico families the most money this year:
Universal Free Lunch and Breakfast
People sometimes say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But for New Mexico kids there’s free lunch all over the state. New Mexico provides free meals to kids at school sites statewide. All children from age 1 to 18 qualify, regardless of income. In fact, New Mexico just passed Senate Bill 4 which provides universal and healthy breakfast and lunches to all students in New Mexico!
During the summer, there is also the Summer Food Program. This is one of the easiest programs in New Mexico to use—there’s no sign-up or paperwork, kids just show up and eat! Kids must be present to claim their meals, and meals need to be eaten at the site. Some sites serve just lunch, while others serve breakfast and lunch. Check out these websites to learn more about the program, and to find a meal site near you.
Help Paying for Internet
So, you made it through a couple of years of distance learning. Maybe you and your kids are taking some well-deserved time away from screens. But you probably still need a good internet connection. COVID-19 showed us how important the internet is for connecting our families to work, school, friends, and family. Many New Mexico families qualify for a program that helps you save money on your internet bill or a new device. Qualifying families can get $30 per month off their internet bill (even more if they are on Tribal lands) and can also save $100 on a new device such as a computer or tablet. How to apply? Visit this website to learn more details and to see if your family will qualify.
You should look at your family’s exact situation, but here’s a quick tip: If you have a school-age child and they get free or discounted meals at school, your family likely qualifies! This website has everything you need to know to apply for the discounts and find an internet provider in your area.
Rent and Mortgage Help
For many families, COVID-19 changed everything. Since 2020, the amount of affordable housing has fallen. Need assistance with searching for rental assistance or affordable housing? This resource can help, starting with an affordable rental map.
If you own your home, New Mexico also offers help with past due mortgage payments to help keep you and your family in your home. The New Mexico Homeowner Assistance Fund can provide housing grants to eligible families who were affected financially by COVID-19. To learn more about the mortgage program and apply, visit this website.
Free Child Care
If housing is the largest monthly expense for most households, child care is close behind. Luckily, more New Mexico families than ever are eligible for a program that pays for the cost of care. Child care assistance is a state program that pays for child care in the setting you choose. So, whether your child is cared for in a child care center, in a home-based setting, or even by a relative who registers with the state, child care assistance can cover those costs. Check out our previous blog post all about child care assistance, or this state website with more details.