Growing Up New Mexico

Growing Up New Mexico

Parents, educators, and the team at Growing Up New Mexico all know the foundations for lifelong social, emotional, and educational development are laid in a child’s early years. Whether toddlers are learning to count or to share, their colors or the concept of kindness, it all starts before a child goes to kindergarten.

New Mexico families with young children face many challenges. Families with resources historically have children who outperform children growing up in poverty. With New Mexico ranking close to last in the country for the strength of public education, it’s clear that many parents need help closing the education gap. Growing Up New Mexico can provide that help.

Growing Up New Mexico has become an integral part of the New Mexico community, bringing people and resources together to fill the gap so every child can succeed. By supporting parents, Growing Up New Mexico can help New Mexico’s most at-risk youngsters have great opportunities.

With essential services such as providing capacity building for families with home-based childcare and home visits,Growing Up New Mexico President and CEO Katherine Freeman sees a brighter future for today’s children. “We have a pretty broad span of work,” she says about their many programs designed for parent and child success.

Bridges to Opportunity Program

Young parents often find themselves overwhelmed with competing responsibilities and may not yet have the skills they need to juggle it all. What parent faced with a job, meals to cook, a house to clean, and a crying infant hadn’t wished a fairy godmother would appear to help make it all better? While the Bridges to Opportunity program doesn’t offer a magic wand, it does, as Katherine explains,“provide a coach for every family and makes sure that families are connected and getting the services they need, like home visiting and childcare.” Having a personal connection with someone who cares can make all the difference for a frazzled parent.

Empowering parents to become goal-setters and problem-solvers will help improve the capacity of families and promote long-term resilience. Resilience has been shown to be a crucial skill for over coming setbacks and challenges — and children can learn resilience from their parents. “The whole point of the bridges program is to build the capacity of the whole family,” Katherine says.

With its comprehensive approach of connecting families to community resources and other tools needed to thrive, Growing Up New Mexico helps meet the needs of children and families in Santa Fe.

Creating Opportunity

New Mexico has a critical shortage of childcare. Parents who want to work but can’t find childcare can’t support their families. Finding quality, nurturing childcare is even more of a challenge.

Growing Up New Mexico has partnered with the State of New Mexico and the Early Childhood Education and Care Department to address the shortage.Katherine describes the work her team has done in collaboration with the state as “a profound structural change across the state to support early childhood care and education.” 

This unique partnership has allowed New Mexico to be the first state in the country to fund the cost of quality, affordable childcare for thousands of families needing help. Recently Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced family-focused initiatives eliminating costs for child care for mostNew Mexico families. 

“Families must be at the center of our efforts around early childcare,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “The announcements today support a universal early childhood education and care system that increases access, maximizes parent choice, and supports early childhood professionals.”

This new initiative will provide free childcare to qualifying families, those earning $111,000 a year or less for a family of four. That means about 18,000 families in the state now qualify for free childcare, eliminating a major hurdle to returning to work for many parents.

The next crucial step is to have enough childcare providers for these families. With that goal in mind, Growing Up New Mexico is partnering with the state to help create a network of home-based childcare providers with the community’s unique characteristics at its center. With $10 million in grant funding available in the state to increase the availability of childcare, more families can create home-based businesses and provide support for area working families.

A Family’s Bridge to Opportunity

Sometimes a challenge becomes a bridge to a new opportunity. One young family experienced exactly that and fortunately, their support from Growing Up New Mexico helped make it a success story.

A young couple had received home visit support and later participated in the Bridges to Opportunity program, which helped improve their parenting skills and build resilience. Then they lost their jobs, and their financial outlook was bleak. But they soon realized this setback was an opportunity in disguise. What if they used the knowledge they had gained through Growing Up New Mexico to become home-based childcare providers? They would have their own business while providing essential support for other parents.

They again turned to their Bridges to Opportunity coach, who helped them navigate the process of being licensed childcare providers while explaining financial strategies. Today, the family continues to receive support from their coach while building their new business and learning how to turn their knowledge and strong parenting skills into a new future.

Continued Support

With the continued support of the Santa Fe community and the community, Growing Up New Mexico can keep pivoting toward the needs of early childhood, providing stable and limitless futures for the youngest members of our community.



This story is brought to you by the Santa Fe Community Foundation, where we inspire philanthropic generosity, strengthen nonprofits, and foster positive change to build a more vibrant, healthy, and resilient region. For information on how we help New Mexico nonprofits, please call us at 505.988.9715 or email

Mar 2, 2022
News & Stories

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