Commissioners Court Approves Two Initiatives that will Improve Childcare Services in Harris County

26 Mar, 24

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved two groundbreaking childcare initiatives. The first initiative offers a complete property tax exemption to eligible childcare facilities, while the second aims to provide comprehensive support for families raising children with developmental delays.

Tax Exemption for Childcare Centers

In a move to support childcare centers, which play a critical role in serving families and maintaining high-quality services, Commissioner Rodney Ellis highlighted the unanimous vote approving a property tax exemption for childcare properties. He said Harris County has 20% of the childcare facilities eligible for this exemption statewide.

“Lack of access to affordable childcare is a significant barrier to prosperity for working families in Harris County,” Commissioner Ellis said. “That's why Commissioners Court has made historic investments in childcare, from funding zero-cost childcare slots to supporting facility upgrades and more. I fully support a 100% property tax exemption for qualifying childcare centers as one more tool in our toolbox to support working families and the future of our kids.”

The property tax exemption for childcare facilities was approved by Texas voters through a Constitutional Amendment. The goal of the exemption is to alleviate financial pressures for quality childcare facilities while encouraging them to serve low-income families who rely on the Texas Workforce Commission subsidy to pay.

Responsive Intervention Supports & Engagement (RISE) Program

Further, the Commissioners Court approved of an interlocal agreement with the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD to operate the Responsive Intervention Supports & Engagement (RISE) program, which will address the needs of families raising children with developmental delays. The program will reach nearly 25,000 families and will provide critical support and early intervention.

“All children deserve the best quality care and education to reach their full potential,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Children who receive early intervention for developmental delays are more likely to acquire skills to achieve positive long-term outcomes.”

RISE will serve families with children who are born with developmental disabilities affecting their cognitive development or mental health. The program will provide access to critical resources to improve children’s outcomes. It will target Second, Third and Fifth Wards along with Sunnyside and Sharpstown.

The program will address the well-known gap to reach children and families who are least likely to receive critical developmental screenings and early intervention services. Black and Latino children with developmental delays are 78% less likely to have their need for early intervention services identified, according to a report by The Education Trust, which is committed to advancing policies and practices to dismantle the racial and economic barriers embedded in the American education system.

Highlighting the county's ongoing commitment to childcare, Commissioner Ellis mentioned significant investments in other initiatives:

  • Early REACH: $48 million has been invested in this program that has created 800 early childcare spaces within existing high-quality programs at no-cost to families. 
  • Harris County SHINE: Over $30 million will be invested in childcare facility renovations to support quality learning, safety and engagement for our children.
  • Childcare workers’ training: This program will give childcare workers, who are an essential part of our community and local economy, access to training and credentials along with mentoring. This training will lead them to higher pay that may lift many out of poverty due to the county’s investment.

“From early education to workforce development, we’re strategically funding initiatives with the greatest return,” Commissioner Ellis said. “And there is no greater return than when we invest in children.”