Montgomery County officials announced a $7 million initiative to expand early education programs, including offering more families financial assistance for childcare.
Lawmakers want to expand the number of seats available and raise eligibility requirements so more families will be eligible for childcare scholarships.
Families earning anything less than $83,082 will be eligible under the new measure for Working Parents Assistance, the county's child care subsidy program.
"Starting with kids early must be a top priority – it’s one of those few things we can identify that has the potential to be a real game changer," County Executive Marc Elrich said in a statement.
Nearly 40 percent of the 76,000 children living in Montgomery County live below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $71,550 income for a family of four, and are considered economically vulnerable, the county says.
Lawmakers also aim to boost kindergarten preparedness by creating about 600 more seats in childcare facilities for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. That requires training and licensing 50 new providers, providing resources to outfit new learning spaces and opening a new early childhood center in Upcountry, the plan says.
Costs for infant and toddler care in the county can cost roughly between $28,000 and $35,000 for every year each child, according to a study from the Foundations for Families.