35 county childcare providers to receive $7.7 million in federal funds to help operations

The federal funds are being given to 35 providers in the county

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department in October announced that more than $157 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be awarded to 1,004 qualifying childcare providers.
  • Kids Corner Learning Center in Farmington received the largest amount with about $708,000.
  • The funds can be used for a variety of expenses including utilities, personnel costs, cleaning, rent and health and safety practice.

FARMINGTON — San Juan County early childhood education providers will receive more than $7 million in federal funds to help with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the providers.

The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department in October announced that more than $157 million in American Rescue Plan funds will be awarded to 1,004 qualifying childcare providers, according to a news release.

The state agency called it one of the largest investments in state history for early care and education.

More: San Juan County, Navajo Nation COVID-19 case updates for November 2021

“This investment will be transformational for our state’s childcare sector, which was hit especially hard by the pandemic,” said New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky in a statement.

A Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center employee Adrianne Lopez, left, pushes children on merry-go-round in the infant-toddler playground at the center on Nov. 5 at 1115 N. Auburn Ave. in Farmington,

Micah McCoy, state early childhood care spokesperson, provided The Daily Times a list for 35 San Juan County early childhood care and education providers who would receive about $7.77 million.

Kids Corner Learning Center in Farmington received the largest amount with about $708,000.

A Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center in Farmington was next with about $643,000 followed by Child Care Castle Preschool & Early Learning Center in Farmington with about $513,000 then Children’s Discovery Place in Farmington with about $415,000 and First Steps Daycare in Farmington with about $413,000.

The funds can be used for a variety of expenses including utilities, personnel costs, cleaning, rent and health and safety practice. The childcare providers detailed how they would spend the funds in the applications.

More: San Juan County reported 924 new COVID-19 cases last week; New Mexico cases surge 23%

The Daily Times reached out to several of the childcare providers on the list and one agreed to an interview.

A Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center owner Barbara Tedrow plays with the infants and toddlers on Nov. 5 at its location on 1115 N. Auburn Ave. in Farmington.

Barbara Tedrow, owner of A Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center, told The Daily Times the funds come at a time when most childcare providers were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have talked to most providers around the state. And we are all still suffering tremendously in trying to find qualified staff, not even just qualified staff that have the degrees that we need,” Tedrow said. “Even finding a warm body is getting difficult at this point in time.”

Tedrow said she made a tough call to close a childcare center on Largo Street near Dad’s Diner in Spring 2020.

It served three and four-year-old children as part of the New Mexico pre-kindergarten grant and shut down when children were moved to remote learning.

She gave up the $5,000 a month lease and diverted funds to keep paying her staff due to the loss of children.

Tedrow said the center is developing a new site on the old Halliburton property near the intersection of East 30th Street and East Main Street, stating it would be near the incoming Dion’s Pizza restaurant.

The new facility will be built with the help of the federal funds and increase access for infants and toddlers along with school-aged children.

“It's a blessing in disguise and it's giving us the opportunity to take the funding and give it back to the community and put a center where it's needed,” Tedrow said.

Tedrow also highlighted how the state early childhood care and education agency will pay a $1,500 one-time stipend to workers in November.

She said all staff, including maintenance personnel, cooks and bus drivers, would also qualify. Applications for the stipend close on Dec. 1.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e