Harris County seeks public input as officials look to improve early childhood development

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks at a State of the County address in November. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks at a State of the County address in November. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo speaks at a State of the County address in November. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)

As Harris County officials embark on a new effort to improve access to early childhood development programs within the county, Judge Lina Hidalgo has announced the first of several "listening sessions" that will be used to gather input from residents.

In a Feb. 5 press release, Hidalgo's office announced the first session will take place from 3-5 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Health Museum, 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston. The county also launched a new website where residents can learn about the initiative and how to contribute feedback.

"Right now, we’re in the early stages of planning this new initiative and would like to build the county’s vision alongside the families, practitioners and other stakeholders who think about early childhood development every day," Hidalgo said in a statement. "We urge anyone interested in shaping the future of Harris County to join us.”

Hidalgo first made public her plans to explore early childhood education at the annual State of the County address Nov. 15. At the time, she said she spent part of 2019 meeting with early childhood experts before deciding to make early childhood education a major focus for 2020.

Both during her State of the County address and in the Feb. 5 announcement, Hidalgo connected early childhood education to the likelihood of children succeeding later on in their education and career lives.

“If you think about the best public programs that a government could enact, you can’t look any farther than early childhood development," she said in her Nov. 15 address. "It’s just about the gold star of something a government can do for its community.”

In the recent announcement, Harris County cited the Perry Preschool Project, which started in 1962 and followed 123 preschool students over the course of 40 years. The study found students who had access to high-quality early childhood education had higher rates of graduation and employment as well as fewer interactions with the criminal justice system.

Details on what kinds of investments Harris County could make in the realm of early childhood education or what actions the county will support are to be determined. Residents can sign up online to receive updates on future listening sessions.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


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