February 22, 2022
New county initiative to seed innovative and proven programs to close gaps in childcare; initiatives to be funded with Federal American Rescue Plan dollars.
Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday awarded grantees a combined total of $7.9 million in American Rescue Plan funds provided by the Biden-Harris Administration 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.
Commissioners approved the following contracts on a 3 to 2 vote:
The contract awards mark a significant milestone in the $10 million Early Childhood Impact Fund (ECIF), a historic investment in Harris County’s youngest residents. The program incubator launched in October 2020, attracting a diverse array of proposals from local, national, and international applicants. A rigorous evaluation process narrowed the pool based on potential for impact, evidence base, the organization’s experience and capacity, and cost effectiveness.
Early childhood emerged as a critical issue for many Harris County residents during county-led town halls and community conversations conducted in 2019 and early 2020. Research backs this up: Early childhood programs have one of the strongest returns on investment of any type of public program. Those positive effects also endure throughout the child’s life, increasing their graduation rates and earnings while reducing their contact with the criminal justice system.
“It takes the entire community to help children reach their full potential,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “By investing in things like language development, educator training, home-based child care, and protections for children in foster care – we can build a Harris County built for the future. A future that includes better education, safer streets, healthier communities, and economic security.”
In addition to the ECIF, the county also established the $4.7 million COVID-19 Childcare Assistance Program to provide some relief to parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provided funding for virtual learning, after school care, early childhood learning, and early childhood care.
For more information and updates on Harris County’s early childhood education initiatives, visit harriscountykids.com.
Myths and Facts about the Harris County Judge’s Office