HOUSTON – Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner Adrian Garcia held a press conference Tuesday morning to discuss a new proposal to invest $7.9 million in American Rescue Plan funds for early childhood programs.
Hidalgo said the funds will be used to help close gaps in child care while promoting public safety, health, and economic development.
In addition to helping early childhood programs across Harris County, the funds will also provide resources for educators, new parents, and the expansion of home-based child care providers.
“The stark truth is that early childhood education is a make-or-break resource,” Hidalgo said. “The value of early childhood cannot be overstated.”
Hidalgo said about half of children who live below the poverty line enter kindergarten without the resources necessary to succeed. As a result, the children are behind in education, Hidalgo said.
Hidalgo said early childhood education is connected to receiving better earnings, reducing gun violence and decreasing the chance of a person’s contact with the criminal justice system.
“So if you care about gun violence and public safety, if you care about public health, if you care about the economy, if you care about opportunity, you must also care about childhood education,” Hidalgo said.
The proposal is part of the Early Childhood Impact Fund, which sets out to create a seamless network of evidence-based initiatives for improving early childhood outcomes in Harris County.
The county selected three programs:
- $4.6 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital so that children have the appropriate resources to make sure their children develop appropriate literacy skills.
- $2.4 million to the non-profit First3Years, and
- $906,173 to non-profit The Alliance to expand home-based child care support.
If approved, funding for the initiatives will be dispersed on March 1.