On Stands Now
July 2024

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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Photo by Jessica Trujillo Teacher Savannah H. engages toddlers in light and shadow play using the light projector; children are developing their spacial awareness and visual perception

New Daycare Opens at Freedom Church

Photo by Savannah Herrera Toddlers exploring INSPIRE’s art studio using tempera paint and paintbrushes; children are using their fine motor skills which helps them develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination

It has been a long-time dream of Kristi Gonzales, owner and pastor of Questa’s Freedom Center Church, to open an early childhood program. Pastor Gonzales is deeply committed to the well-being of the Questa community and has spent many years dedicated to the support and service of its youth and families.

It is difficult to find childcare for young children ages 0 to 4 in Questa. “Families are often left to balance care between family members, themselves, and others,” says a community member. A recent community needs assessment of Taos County conducted by the Paso a Paso Network, only reinforced this reality — that Questa is a childcare desert. It was through persistence and collaborative efforts that Pastor Gonzales’s dream would come to fruition.

Simultaneously, village leaders were working with Taylor Etchemendy, owner and director of INSPIRE Bilingual Early Learning Center in Taos, to support the access and availability of early childhood education and care in Questa. INSPIRE is a 5-star bilingual program and currently has two facilities located in downtown Taos, supporting over 100 families daily.

INSPIRE had been awarded a Local Early Childhood Systems Building grant from the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department to open new facilities in both Questa and Arroyo Seco. This presented an opportunity for INSPIRE and Freedom Center Church to collaborate. Pastor Gonzales, Taylor Etchemendy, and Jessica Trujillo met in late spring to discuss potential collaborations.

On December 11, INSPIRE at Freedom Questa opened its doors to serve six infants and 12 toddlers daily. The program is led by master teacher and director, Jessica Trujillo, and staffed by Questa community members. Their commitment and dedication to the children and families of Questa is inspiring. “We are thrilled to be able to provide this service for Questa and surrounding areas. We are dedicated to expanding services and could not have done any of it without the support of local leadership and the amazing women that worked tirelessly to open the facility.” says Etchemendy. “Children are capable, curious, creative and joyful. They are our future. It is our responsibility to support our youngest citizens in their development and well-being.”

To be added to the wait list or check for availability, please contact Amanda Escobar at amanda89escobar@gmail.com.