The County Connection: Apply Now For Free Child Care
The County Connection
Lina Hidalgo | Harris County Judge
I’m so proud to announce that applications are now open for our Early REACH program – a program that increases education access for the youngest children in Harris County. This program is the largest known investment of American Rescue Plan Act dollars by any county or city in the nation for early childhood education. Kids who participate in high-quality early childhood programs are more likely to graduate from high school, perform better in school, have higher rates of employment as adults, and are less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.
Thanks to $26 Million in American Rescue Plan funds, our Early REACH program provides free, high-quality child care for families in high-need Harris County areas. Families in Harris County are encouraged to apply TODAY. Families will be eligible to apply for Early REACH if they live in Harris County, have children ages zero to four and can demonstrate a financial need. Apply at earlyreach.org.
The program works by helping child care providers cover the costs, such as operating expenses, staff wages, and recruitment efforts of providing care. Childcare providers can apply for this assistance at earlyreach.org if they are located in a child care desert and an area with high social needs. This program will be a game-changer for Harris County families – the investments from Early REACH are expected to create up to 1,000 more high-quality slots for child care across the county. Not only are we helping parents and setting kids up for success from an early age, but we are also setting an example for other counties across the nation for what local governments can do to help families achieve a better future. Apply for Early REACH today!
Join Judge Lina Hidalgo for the 2023 Houston Pride Parade – SIGN UP TODAY
Join us to celebrate Pride and walk in the 2023 Houston Pride Parade with Judge Lina Hidalgo! The Parade will take place on Saturday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m. near Houston City Hall, 901 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002. Sign up here for information on how to join. Space is limited!
In Harris County, We Don’t Leave Our Neighbors Behind
Despite currently having a record employment rate of over 3.3 million, Harris County is seeing rising levels of poverty, something that simply shouldn’t happen in an economy as large and as robust as ours. Uplift Harris, Harris County’s new guaranteed income pilot program, will work to combat this. Guaranteed income programs provide direct cash payments in fixed amounts that recipients can spend as they see fit. Uplift Harriswill provide $500 monthly cash payments to eligible families for 18 months, relying on federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan. Recipients will be selected randomly from the 10 most impoverished zip codes throughout the county. Decades of researchshow that people spend cash benefits wisely, leading to more financial stability as well as improved physical, emotional, and social outcomes. More than 82 cities and counties across the nation and over 10 countries around the world have similar programs with positive results. We have a duty to employ all the tools that we can to reduce poverty. In Harris County, we won’t leave our neighbors behind.
Greater Houston Disaster Alliance to Help Residents Recover from Natural Disasters Faster Than Ever Before
We can’t control when a crisis strikes but what we can control is preparation. In May,Harris County, Houston, United Way Greater Houston, and the Greater Houston Community Foundation announced the new Greater Houston Disaster Alliance. The Disaster Alliance will strengthen our region’s resiliency by bringing us all together to raise more disaster relief funds and deploy funds faster and more equitably immediately following a disaster.
For the first time, the region will have standing infrastructure in place to fundraise and prepare for natural disasters year-round. The Greater Houston Disaster Alliance will be guided by a Disaster Council comprising community and business leaders who possess expertise in disaster recovery. Enbridge and Phillips 66 invested $1.5 million to fund the Alliance’s staff over the next three years. For more information on the Greater Houston Disaster Alliance, visit www.disasteralliance.org.
As we head into this year’s hurricane season, please remember that being prepared is a shared responsibility. We all need to do our part – Make a plan, restock your emergency kit, stay informed, and get flood insurance. Disasters are by nature chaotic, but, through thorough preparation, we will be able to help more people faster than ever before.
Giving Women a Better Chance After Interactions With the Justice System
In April, the Commissioner’s Court approved $4.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide evidence-based services designed to rehabilitate women throughout the reentry process. The Women’s Reentry Program will provide mental health support, trauma counseling, education and vocational training, substance abuse support, and other services for women housed in the Women’s Center Jail. These services not only proactively work to reduce recidivism, but also provide women with life-changing job training, care, and support systems that will ultimately help them, their families, and our communities.
State Bills Target Harris County Elections
Harris County is home to nearly 5 million residents and is the third largest in the nation. Governor Greg Abbott recently signed two election subversion bills, SB 1933 and SB 1750, into law. These laws remove Harris County’s nonpartisan Elections Administrator position and empower a state official to tightly control the elections in Texas’ largest county. Nine out of the ten largest counties in Texas, and almost 50 percent of counties in the state have a nonpartisan Elections Administrator. Judge Hidalgo and County Attorney Menefee have announced the intent to sue the state over these bills, and Judge Hidalgo has called upon the Justice Department to investigate. Watch a video of Judge Hidalgo discussing this issue here.
June is Gun Violence Prevention Month
On May 24, we marked the one-year anniversary of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Since then, we’ve all heard the countless stories on the news about other mass shootings both in Texas and across the country. While violent crime is overall down by 10% in Harris County, data shows that between 2018 and 2022 there were over 1,800 deaths from a firearm in our county.
In June, Harris County Commissioners Court joined other regions across the nation in declaring June Gun Violence Prevention Month. But we also backed our resolution up with action. Harris County invested $6 million in the Community Violence Intervention Program (CVIP) to proactively stop gun violence before it occurs and created the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund to help divert youth away from gun violence. The County received more than 1600 unwanted firearms off the streets through gun buyback events.
In April, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioners Court approved $2 million in funds for the design and installation of trees via the Alief Linear Forest Project. Areas of Alief can be more than 10 degrees hotter than other areas of Houston on the same day, and overall crime rates are higher following an increase in daily maximum temperature. Research has shown this relationship is stronger in low-income neighborhoods. The Alief Linear Forest Project will plant 1,200 trees over 17 miles of public rights-of-way, with at least 100 20-feet trees being planted by 2025. This initiative is part of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Program, which addresses blight, vacant lots, and the like in order to reduce the spaces that foster crime.
Harris County to Provide More Low-Income Housing for Families in Need
As our county continues to grow, the supply of affordable housing will remain a pressing issue. In April, County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Commissioner’s Court approved over $15 million in American Rescue Plan funds to help between 80 and 100 low-income Harris County families gain access to newly-constructed, safe and affordable housing via the Affordable Housing Portfolio Single Family Acquisition Program.
Adopt a Lucky Dog or Cat From Harris County Pets Today!
Harris County Pets Is over capacity and, in May, had a kennel population of 386 dogs and 312 cats for a shelter meant to hold 243 dogs and 225 cats. Of those animals, 95% of them have been at the shelter longer than 30 days. This length of stay and overcrowding can lead to physical, emotional, and mental consequences for the animals in our care. We recently remodeled our Harris County Pets facility and have many dedicated staff and volunteers, but we cannot address this crisis alone! If you are interested in fostering/adopting or are looking for volunteer opportunities, please call 281-999-3191 or visit www.countypets.com.
Harris Health Can Help You Get Affordable Healthcare
Harris Health is a community-focused academic healthcare system dedicated to improving the health of those in need in Harris County through quality care delivery, coordination of care, and education. While medical care is not free at our facilities, there is financial assistance for those who qualify. Harris Health’s Financial Assistance Program is not insurance, but based on your household income, you may qualify for partial financial assistance to help cover some of the costs of clinic and hospital visits within Harris Health. To qualify for financial assistance, your household income may not exceed 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
Am I Eligible for Healthcare through Harris Health?
Anyone is eligible regardless of age, income, or immigration status, however, you must be a Harris County resident.
How Do I Apply for Financial Assistance for Harris Health Services?
To learn more about Harris Health’s Financial Assistance Program, visit harrishealth.organd select the “Am I Eligible” icon on the upper right-hand corner. If you have any questions, please call the Eligibility Call Center at 713-566-6509.
Upcoming Commissioners Court Meetings
As part of the County Judge’s Office initiative to make local government more transparent and accessible, we invite you to get involved by viewing Commissioners Court meetings. You can check here to see the meeting schedule, and watch the official close captioned livestream here or on the Judge’s homepage here.
Upcoming Flood Control Bond Project Meetings
Harris County never stops preparing for the next big storm. And while the 2018 Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program is in full swing, we continue to seek input from community members as we implement projects in watersheds across the County. If you have a comment about a particular project, we invite you to attend the corresponding virtual meeting and be part of the planning process. Learn more about upcoming 2018 Bond Program Community Engagement Meetings here.
Hazardous Waste Collection Appointments
Do you have unwanted household hazardous items? Properly dispose of them by making an appointment with the Household Hazardous Waste Collections facility at 6900 Hahl Road in Houston. Learn what items are accepted and make an appointment here.
About Judge Hidalgo
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is the head of Harris County’s governing body and Director of the Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Judge Hidalgo, alongside four County Precinct Commissioners, oversees a budget of approximately $5 billion that funds services and institutions for the third-largest county in the nation, home to nearly 5 million people.
For more information about Harris County and the Office of the County Judge, click here.