In Fall 2020, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a $10 million Early Childhood Impact Fund to provide competitive funding to research-driven programs with the potential to dramatically improve early childhood outcomes for vulnerable Harris County families. A rigorous evaluation process, informed by data collected during the Virtual and February 15th Community Conversations, narrowed the pool based on potential for impact, evidence base, the organization’s experience and capacity, and cost effectiveness.
In February 22, 2022, Harris County Commissioners Court awarded three grantees a combined total of $7.9 million in American Rescue Plan funds to seed a targeted portfolio of early childhood programs, including resources for educators and new parents and the expansion of home-based child care providers. Recipients include:
- $4.6 million to Texas Children’s Hospital to build the upWORDS Community-Based Universal and Targeted Intervention Model: The program will provide universal education, resources, and materials to parents of young children. Over three years, 20,000 children will be served and TCH will train 6,000 early childhood educators.
- $2.4 million to First3Years to expand the Safe Babies Approach in Harris County: This initiative, which will be offered to 300 young children and their families over three years, is designed to to improve family reunification by strengthening the relationship between birth and foster parents.
- $906,173 to The Alliance for Home-Based Child Care Supports to expand home-based child care operations. This effort will create jobs, creating at least 23 licensed programs that will add child care capacity in low- to moderate-income communities.
The Impact Fund also provides funding for a third-party researcher to monitor, collect data from, conduct evaluations of, and provide training to the recipient programs over the three-year funding period. The contract awards mark a significant milestone in the $10 million Early Childhood Impact Fund, a historic investment in Harris County’s youngest residents.