Access Rankings


Resource Rankings

State spending
All reported spending

Total Benchmarks Met

Of 10 benchmarks possible


During the 2022-2023 school year, New Mexico preschool enrolled 13,227 children, an increase of 660 from the prior year. State spending totaled $88,324,736 and an additional $17,600,000 in TANF funds supported the program, down $4,974,315 (4%), adjusted for inflation, since last year. State spending per child (including TANF) equaled $8,008 in 2022-2023, down $816 from 2021-2022, adjusted for inflation. New Mexico met 9 of 10 quality standards benchmarks.

What's New

During the 2023 state legislative session, nearly $100 million from the Land Grant Permanent Fund was appropriated to the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) to award a total of 279 PreK grants to 84 school district programs and 195 community-based programs, family child care providers, Tribal governments (funding 554 new Tribal PreK slots), and Head Start grantees. The funding will also be used to significantly expand instructional hours and increase pay for PreK teachers in the awarded programs.

In the 2023-2024 school year, NM PreK programs received a significant increase in the per child rate to reflect higher salaries for teachers and assistant teachers and an increase in instructional hours. In addition, there were increases for transportation costs and funding for research-based curricula. The state allowed enrollment of three-year olds in public schools.

In December 2022, New Mexico was awarded a federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B–5) renewal grant for $10 million. PDG B–5 is addressing ECECD’s six focus areas: updating the comprehensive needs assessment, implementing local early childhood coalitions’ strategic plans, maximizing family engagement, supporting the workforce to expand language immersion early child care and education programs in Tribal communities, redesigning the states QRIS, and enhancing quality through subgrants.


NM PreK launched in the 2005-2006 school year with the enactment of the PreK Act. With the passage of the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Act (2019), the program is now administered by ECECD which funds and monitors NM PreK programs provided through school districts, and those operated by community-based organizations and other eligible providers. ECECD partners with the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) for the day-to-day operations and oversight of PreK programs in public schools. In the 2021-2022 school year, 93% of school districts offered NM PreK. 

NM PreK funding is awarded through a competitive grant process, with priority given to programs in communities with public elementary schools designated as Title I. Two-thirds of enrolled children at each program site must live in the attendance zone of a Title I elementary school, though eligibility is not determined by family income. 

The number of hours and days per week vary by program, with a minimum of 450 hours per year. In 2014-2015, the legislature provided limited funding for an extended-day PreK pilot to double the instructional hours to 900 per school year. In 2021-2022, almost 89% of all children enrolled were in school-day PreK. Some private or nonprofit facilities use child care subsidy dollars for wraparound care to assist parents who qualify, or to offer reduced rates for private pay. PreK programs in public schools can extend the day using operational dollars or Title I funds.

New Mexico PreK


Total state pre-K enrollment13,227
School districts that offer state program94%
Income requirementNo income requirement
Minimum hours of operation3 hours/day
Operating scheduleDetermined locally
Special education enrollment, ages 3 and 43,109
Federally funded Head Start enrollment, ages 3 and 45,382
State-funded Head Start enrollment, ages 3 and 40


Total state pre-K spending$105,924,736
Local match required?No
State Head Start spending$0
State spending per child enrolled$8,008
All reported spending per child enrolled*$8,008

*Pre-K programs may receive additional funds from federal or local sources that are not included in this figure. †Head Start per-child spending includes funding only for 3- and 4-year-olds. ‡K–12 expenditures include capital spending as well as current operating expenditures.

New Mexico Quality Standards Checklist

Policy RequirementBenchmarkMeets Benchmark?

For more information about the benchmarks, see the Executive Summary and the Roadmap to State pages.

9benchmarks met
Early Learning & Development Standards BenchmarkComprehensive, aligned, supported, culturally sensitiveComprehensive, aligned, supported, culturally sensitive
Curriculum Supports BenchmarkApproval process & supportsApproval process & supports
Teacher Degree BenchmarkBA (public); Working toward BA (nonpublic)BA
Teacher Specialized Training BenchmarkECE, CD, ECE SpEd (public); ECE, CD (nonpublic)Specializing in pre-K
Assistant Teacher Degree BenchmarkAA in ECECDA or equivalent
Staff Professional Development BenchmarkMinimum 24 hours/year; PD plans; CoachingFor teachers & assistants: At least 15 hours/year; individual PD plans; coaching
Maximum Class Size Benchmark16 (3-year-olds); 20 (4-year-olds)20 or lower
Staff to Child Ratio Benchmark1:8 (3-year-olds); 1:10 (4-year-olds)1:10 or better
Screening & Referral BenchmarkVision, hearing, health & moreVision, hearing & health screenings; & referral
Continuous Quality Improvement System BenchmarkStructured classroom observations; Data used for program improvementStructured classroom observations; data used for program improvement