HOUSTON — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo wants to invest millions of dollars into early childhood education.
She is proposing spending $48 million to provide additional resources for parents and communities, but the plan needs approval from county commissioners.
The money could provide some relief for parents struggling to find affordable care.
“Having to find childcare is very expensive, and to trust someone to just take care of your kids and pay them all that money with everything that’s going on right now is very hard,” Brittany Frazier said.
Frazier is engaged with three children and tries to have family members look after her kids when possible.
“I can only work for a certain amount of hours, which puts me at a part-time position when I need a full-time job to provide for them -- not just with childcare but for everything else,” Frazier said.
For early learning centers like Cradles 2 Crayons could also benefit from Hidalgo's proposal.
“It is absolutely critical because 0 to 5 years old or birth or 5 years old is some of the most crucial moments in a child’s learning, it’s like a sponge,” owner Sophia Davis said.
They say additional dollars will help hire, train and add capacity to their midtown daycare.
Additionally, it could provide enrichment for social and emotional development.
“Walking in to that kindergarten classroom prepared, that’s a big difference," Davis said. "It also gives the parents an opportunity to be able to go and gain employment, to be able to go out in to the community, to be able to thrive in Houston and not have to worry about their children in the learning environment."
Resources would also be crucial as childcare centers are bouncing back from the COVID disruptions.
“It will be very important because it would help us to not only to gain more staff so that we could offer jobs in the community and increase enrollment and have staff in place to do so but we will also be able to offer pay increases and bonuses to the staff that was with us through COVID,” co-owner Deon Davis said.
The money will be coming from American Rescue Plans funds if the commissioners agree.