HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The Harris County Judge wants to improve the economy, increase public safety, and help working families by investing in early childhood education.
Half of the kids 3 years old and under with working parents don't receive care in a formal setting. About 105,000 of these kids live in a quality childcare desert. That means they don't have good, affordable options. County leaders said this is unacceptable.
On Tuesday, Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the approval of a $48 million plan for childcare. The money represents the largest known COVID stimulus investment into childcare by any U.S. city or county, Hidalgo said.
"HUGE WIN: We just approved $48M - the largest known (American Rescue Plan Act) investment into childcare by any county or city in the nation. Half of our kids with working parents don't have access to formal childcare. We're taking action to set our kids up for success," Hidalgo tweeted.
Hidalgo said Texas families typically spend too much household income on childcare. Because of this, too many parents are forced to go without it.
Officials say they will use the money to create 10% more childcare slots at quality centers in the county. Those centers must also pay employees at least $15 an hour.
Leaders said this type of investment puts kids on the road to success early. It will also help parents get back to work.
"Finding one of quality with great reviews and great, qualified teachers is very difficult," Keotta House, a mother of two, said. "That is a long journey. My 12-month-old, we started looking when she was three months. It took about three months to find really good childcare."
"We have this obligation to meet the true needs of our community. If early childhood education is one of them, we will continue to be there and make sure families are getting the support they need," Hidalgo said.
"The little ones of today are getting a better chance for tomorrow with this particular investment. This is not just the right thing to do. It's smart and will create generational impact," Garcia added.
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