County opens Early Childhood “REACH” program

Applications Now Open, 1,000 Spaces Available

HARRIS COUNTY – Today, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo joined nonprofits BakerRipley and United Way of Greater Houston to announce that Harris County families can now apply for the Early REACH child care program. The Early REACH (Raising Educational Access for Children in Harris County) program will create up to 1,000 child care spaces for children ages zero to four. Judge Hidalgo has made early childhood programs one of her marquee priorities since taking office, and the Early REACH program is possible thanks to $26 million in American Rescue Plan funds.

“Our program is a game changer for the community. Harris County residents must be able to afford to live, work and raise a family here, and we are addressing the urgent need for child care,” said Judge Hidalgo. “A thousand more young kids are going to get high quality care which we know leads to lifelong outcomes like higher income, higher likelihood of graduation, and lower risk of justice involvement.”

The Early REACH program will be implemented by BakerRipley and United Way of Greater Houston. United Way will recruit child care centers while working with them to improve the quality of care. BakerRipley will be responsible for contracting with child care centers, paying them, and recruiting and enrolling families and children.

“Quality early childhood education begins with empowering teachers and childcare directors to provide the very best education and care to the children they serve,” said Amanda McMillian, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Houston. “Investing in child care centers through programs like Early REACH helps build environments where teachers have the support, training, and information to help them develop as professionals, work through challenges, and implement best practices that contribute to strong outcomes for kids.”

“I commend Harris County for continuing to recognize that high-quality child care is a vital component for the growth of the economy, workforce development, and socioeconomic mobility. For many low-income families that work hard but still struggle with rapidly rising costs of living, Early REACH will be a big positive step toward financial stability and self-sufficiency,” said Claudia Aguirre, BakerRipley President and CEO.

Children and families are eligible to participate if they meet these requirements:

— Residency: Live in Harris County AND

— Age: Children are age zero to four AND

— Demonstrate financial need via one of the following:

— Live in a family that makes 85% less of State Median Income (SMI) (approx. $75,468 annually for a family of four.) OR

— Live in an area of high need according to the Social Vulnerability Index (high need considered to be .75 or above) OR

— Are experiencing homelessness OR

— Are in foster care OR

— Receive WIC, SNAP, TANF, free or reduced lunch, or SSI income.

To learn more about Early REACH, and apply, visit