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Daycare owners worry minimum wage increase will affect childcare subsidies

With only weeks until the Las Cruces minimum wage increases to $10.10 an hour, daycare owners worry parents will lose the subsidies they need to afford childcare.

“Trust us: We want to pay our staff more,” said Angela Garcia, owner of the Toy Box Preschool. “But when we do this, this takes from our families. It takes from our communities. It takes from our staff.”

A total of six daycare owners from across the city of Las Cruces relayed their frustration to ABC-7 on Thursday. According to the group, more than 90 percent of their parents rely on state money to subsidize the cost of childcare.

“We’re talking hundreds of children that are on subsidized care at the moment will no longer qualify,” Garcia said. “Where will they go?”

According to the daycare owners, parents who make 150 percent of the federal poverty level typically qualify for financial assistance.

A two-parent household with one child must make less than a combined $2,597.50 monthly salary to be eligible, according to data provided by the owners. After the $10.10 minimum wage increase, those two parents would make a combined $3,501.34 per month.

“I’m actually very nervous,” said Adrienne Hernandez, a mother of a 7-month-old and a 5-year-old.

The Las Cruces mother told ABC-7 she currently qualifies for financial assistance from the state to pay for her children’s daycare. After the minimum wage increase, she said she will no longer qualify.

“It just makes it that much harder by it going up,” Hernandez said. We won’t be getting that help. We’ll be having to pay more for daycare, for our childcare.”

“It’s been five years in the planning,” said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima.

In 2014, the Las Cruces City Council approved a tiered increase in the minimum wage over five years. In 2015, it rose to $8.40 an hour. In 2017, it rose to $9.20 an hour. In 2019, it will rise to $10.10 an hour.

Minimum wage increases: 2015: $8.40 2017: $9.20 2019: $10.10

“To expect the city council to do something in the eleventh hour like this is really kind of unfair to the city,” Mayor Miyagishima said.

According to Lupe Nevarez, owner of the Children’s Garden, multiple daycare owners expressed their concern in 2014 at the Las Cruces City Council meetings. Nevarez said owners of her daycare also had a closed meeting with the mayor warning him of the consequences.

The mayor told ABC-7 he will meet with the daycare owners and state legislators on Monday to search for a solution, just weeks before the increase takes effect.

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