Office of Child Development
Child playing with blocks
The Office of Child Development was created by statute in 1989, funded July of 1990, and became operational in November 1990. A seven member Governor-appointed Child Development Board has oversight of the Office of Child Development. Recognizing that a good beginning has no end, the mission of the Child Development Board is that all New Mexico children, from birth through age eight, and their families have access to a quality, age, and individually appropriate child development system.
Quality Care and Education
Increasingly, child care is viewed as not only a social service that enables parents to work or go to school, but as an opportunity to enhance the healthy growth, development and learning of young children. The state of New Mexico is committed to building the quality of the child care system, and to assuring that children from low income families have equitable access to high quality programs. Access to quality early care enables children to enter kindergarten with the good health and skills necessary to be successful.
The New Mexico PreK program was established in 2005, and provides early education services to four-year-olds across the state. PreK services are offered by community programs and public schools. The initiative is collaboratively administered by the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) and the Public Education Department (PED).
Home Visiting is a service provided by qualified professionals within the home to parents, prenatally and/or with children birth to age three. Home Visiting Services include:
- Assisting families in identifying informal support networks;
- Providing referrals to community resources as necessary;
- Providing information on prenatal health, newborn care and child development;
- Determining if families have been referred to Medicaid;
- Conducting post partum visits when possible, which includes assessment of the mothers’ well being – physical and emotional – as well as needed social supports and concrete needs; and
- Guiding families, caregivers and adoptive parents through child developmental curricula.
Training and Technical Assistance
Eight regional Training and Technical Assistance Programs are located throughout the state, and provide a myriad of training opportunities to early care and education staff, parents and interested community members. Program staff provide on-site consultation through the AIM HIGH quality improvement initiative for programs wanting to improve their quality and attain a higher star level. The staff also work closely with child care licensing staff to determine the quality of licensed child care programs statewide in order to assign the appropriate number of stars toward the program’s license.
Child Care Resource and Referral
A centralized child care resource and referral service for parents searching for quality child care is available on line or by calling 1-800-691-9067. A web site, www.NewMexicoKids.org, provides parents the opportunity to search for child care in their area based on criteria important to them. As well, parents can call the toll-free number and speak to a child care and development specialist who can assist them with finding child care, or provide referrals to community-based services based upon specialized needs.
Educators, researchers, policymakers, and families all agree that high quality teachers are the most important factor in a child’s education. Research shows that measures of teacher preparation and certification are by far the strongest correlates of student achievements – particularly in reading and mathematics. In addition, there are many new standards in the early care and education field – the state PreK program, new federal Head Start Performance Standards, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the New Mexico Look for the STARS Quality Rating system for child care licensing – which require a comprehensive career development system. The Office of Child Development has statutory responsibility for organizing and managing a professional development system with state-issued licensure and certification based on transcripted coursework in higher education for all individuals working with children birth through age eight. Oversight for these activities is provided by an Early Childhood Higher Education Task Force.
This type of professional development includes facilitated learning opportunities that are less intensive than college credit courses, are more informal in nature, and are situated in practice. The professionals who attend training opportunities that are offered by the Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance Programs (TTAPs) are widely diverse with respect to their roles (directors, teachers, teachers assistants), organizational affiliations (Head Start, child care, PreK), qualifications, education, and experience. Attendees serve diverse young children who vary widely in terms of their abilities, race, ethnicity, culture and language.
Head Start Collaboration Office
A federally-funded Head Start Collaboration Director acts as the liaison between state government and all Head Start grantees in the state. Acting as a clearinghouse for information, the Head Start Collaboration Director ensures that state government personnel are aware of federal and community Head Start activities, and also disseminates information to Head Start grantees that they otherwise might not be aware of. This individual coordinates statewide support activities for Head Start programs, and facilitates professional development and training activities.
For more information on Child Development, please call (505) 827-7946