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New Childhood Education Center Opens with Support from CNM Programs

Run by a mother/daughter duo, the center will serve up to 100 kids on Albuquerque’s Westside
New Childhood Education Center Opens with Support from CNM Programs
Erika Estrada-Quezada plays with kids at the Twins Learning Center.

Feb 26, 2020

On a bright sunny day earlier this week, a batch of happy kids climbed the jungle gym, bounced on teeter totters, and laughed on the swings at the Twins Learning Center, an early childhood education business on Central Avenue just west of 55th Street.

Run by Erika Estrada-Quezada and her mom Norma Estrada, the Twins Learning Center first enrolled kids in December and will have its grand opening on March 25. Started with help from Crianza—a CNM business accelerator focused on early childhood education centers—and the CNM Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which provides free business coaching, Twins is already filling up. Within the next couple of months, Erika and her mom hope to work with 100 kids each day—ages six weeks to 12 years old.

“We want to serve as much of the community as we can,” Erika said. “Whether that’s caring for infants or ensuring older kids have a place to go after school where they can work on homework and eat dinner.”

The Twins Learning Center is actually Erika’s second and Norma’s third childhood education business. Norma ran the Nene & Bear Daycare, and she and Erika started their first joint business—Twins A & V Daycare Center on 4th Street—back in December of 2018 right after graduating from the Crianza program. That center has the capacity for 45 kids.

Norma had cared for kids for years out of her home and wanted the businesses as a way to grow. Erika came on board after she had her now 3-year-old twins—Victoria and Arianna—and saw the growing need for early childhood centers in their neighborhood on Albuquerque’s Westside.

“My mom has always been like this, she’s always loved kids,” Erika said. “Just the other day she ran into someone who she cared for 18 years ago and now he’s a young man who works for the city. She cried when she saw him. He’s like family.”

Photo of Erika Estrada-Quezada and her mom Norma Estrada.
Erika Estrada-Quezada and her mom Norma Estrada.

The duo was dealing with the details of opening their first business when they learned about Crianza and enrolled. In that program, the duo got help with everything from writing their parenting handbook to navigating state policies and procedures. Advisors from the SBDC then came in and helped Erika, Norma, and their cohort write up business plans, ensure their buildings were up to code, and advise in whatever capacity was needed.

“We sort of understood what we needed for a business before Crianza, but once we entered the program they helped us figure out exactly what we needed,” Erika said.

Catron Allred, who oversees CNM’s early childhood and teacher education programs, says Crianza is designed to not only jumpstart early childhood businesses, but also create a larger economic impact across Albuquerque.

“If parents are going to participate in the economy or come back to school, they need high quality care,” she said. “We’re excited to support the childhood businesses and parents alike.”  

Erika and Norma still have some work to do advertising their new center, but they know there are lots of parents in the area who need affordable, high-quality care. That’s why they serve such a wide audience—from babies to middle-schoolers—and suspect they’ll be at capacity within just a couple of months.

Back at the learning center this week, the kids wrapped up on the playground and came inside where they washed their hands and settled in for a snack and some drawing. Norma left to run an errand and Erika began to help her staff.

“It’s been really nice to make our dream a reality,” she said. 

Photo of a child at the Twins Learning Center