Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced a $750,000 investment to support an innovative, new partnership between the Community Action Council of Howard County (CAC) and Howard Community College (HCC). This impactful funding from Ball will help CAC and HCC expand the number of early childhood education opportunities for infants, toddlers and two-year-olds in Howard County and create the county’s first-ever Early Head Start program. Photos from the event can be found here.



Since the COVID-19 pandemic, childcare options for infants and toddlers across our nation have diminished and become more expensive. While nearly 20,000 children under the age of five live in Howard County, there are only approximately 10,000 childcare spots available to our families. Due to this lack of available care, too many families are left scrambling to find safe and affordable care. Through this impactful funding and innovative partnership, we will provide more of our families with access to the affordable childcare they so desperately need, empowering parents and caretakers to return to the workforce and provide for their families. As a county, we are declaring our commitment to support working families and our children taking their best first steps in the future.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

With this funding, CAC will expand its Head Start programming to include children ages two and younger with the opening of five new childcare classrooms. Three of these classrooms will be located at HCC’s Children’s Learning Center (CLC) in Columbia and two classrooms will be located at CAC’s Ellicott City Early Childhood Education Center on High Ridge Road. Children whose families earn up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for this new Early Head Start program.

“The expansion of early childhood education by adding infant, toddler, and two-year-old classrooms at our existing locations and the soon-to-be-opened Children’s Learning Center at the beautiful Howard Community College is just the beginning of how CAC, along with our partners, plan to address the need for low-to-no cost exceptional care across the county,” said Tracy Broccolino, President, Community Action Council of Howard County. “We are truly grateful for the partnership with Dr. Willis and our friends at Howard Community College, County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball and the many others who join CAC to support our mission of service.”

Howard Community College is proud to meet students where they dream through innovative support services,” said Dr. Daria J. Willis, HCC President. “Partnerships such as this with the Community Action Council of Howard County allow our students to meet their academic goals while preparing the next generation of learners,” said Willis.

This funding will support the operations of these two centers over a two-year period, after which, state funding from the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future will help pick up the ongoing operating costs of the classrooms.

“I am pleased to see so many community partners come together to support our youth. As a board member of the Community Action Council, I’ve seen through CAC’s efforts how important early childhood educational programs like Head Start are to development, especially at some of the earliest stages of a child’s life,” said Maryland State Senator and Howard County Delegation Co-Chair Clarence Lam. “As a legislator who helped craft the Blueprint for Maryland’s future, we understood why it was so important to ensure all children across the state have access to early childhood support, so they are ready to enter our public schools.”

It is not an overstatement or exaggeration when we use the word ‘crisis’ in discussing the pressing need for childcare in Maryland,” said Maryland State Delegate and Howard County Delegation Co-Chair Jessica Feldmark. “Lack of access to affordable quality childcare is one of the biggest challenges many families face, and as a result, it is one of the biggest challenges many employers face as well. Creating this Early Head Start Program is a huge step forward in addressing the impacts of the childcare crisis here in Howard County, and it will provide lifelong benefits for the children and families who participate,” said Feldmark.

This past Fiscal Year 2024, CAC denied enrollment to 70 children because they were too young (under the age of three), while another 35 families were denied because their income surpassed Head Start’s income limits. These new programs will help CAC meet the early education needs of more Howard County families.

“We know that education makes a huge difference in enabling social and economic mobility for the entire family. We also know that exceptional early childhood education puts children on a trajectory to lifelong success. Thank you, Dr. Ball AND thank you CAC & HCC team for working tirelessly to get us this far,” said Erin Adelsberger, Director of Early Childhood Education, Community Action Council of Howard County.

Increasing access to quality early care and education environments in Howard County is central to our mission and one of the core tenants of our Office of Children and Families,” says Jackie Scott, Director, Howard County Department of Community Resources and Services. “This expanded center joins more than 120 childcare centers across the county. This is significant because the data tells us that early childhood education is vital to our children’s development, especially during the first three years.”

CAC’s Ellicott City Head Start program has been operating six classrooms out of its Ellicott City Early Childhood Education Center location on High Ridge Road since 1979. As the sole provider of the first Head Start program in Howard County and now the first Early Head Start program, CAC will now provide families and children with a continuum of early childhood education in one location.

“The Community Action Council is the best kept secret in Howard County. Their Early Childhood Education program has been so important for my family.  I know other families benefit from their housing, energy, and weatherization programs and of course, the Howard County Food Bank. It is partnerships like the ones being celebrated today and organizations like Community Action Council that truly make Howard County a place to work, live and play for all families,” said Georgina Garcia, Parent, Ellicott City Early Childhood Education Center.

HCC’s CLC opened in 2000 and was designed to serve its students who needed childcare as they pursued their education. Unfortunately, HCC closed the CLC’s doors in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, the U.S. Department of Education awarded HCC a $1 million Childcare Access Means Parents in School grant to support the re-opening its campus childcare center. In April, HCC President Dr. Daria Willis announced plans to reopen its CLC in partnership with the CAC. The CLC’s reopening will serve as an essential resource in reducing childcare costs, creating much-needed Early Head Start programming for infants and toddlers, and encouraging degree completion among student parents at HCC.

In addition to support CAC and HCC in expanding infant and toddler care by establishing Howard County’s first-ever Early Head Start program, Ball has also taken major steps to implement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future. Last year, Ball announced a $22 million investment to renovate Faulkner Ridge Center to expand universal pre-K services. Ball’s Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) Capital Budget also included an additional $1.1 million to continue the advancement of the center’s renovations. Once complete, this new center will create 260 new seats for universal pre-K and will allow the County to fulfill its implementation of the Blueprint to make full day pre-k available for four-year-olds up to 600 percent of the federal poverty level.

Additionally, in his FY25 budget, Ball committed an additional $3.5 million to the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to convert nearly every elementary school half-day pre-k program into a full-day pre-k program. The number of full day pre-k slots in HCPSS has grown from 300 in the 2021-2022 school year to 942 for the upcoming 2024-2925 school year. In tandem with the future opening of the Faulkner Ridge Center, these investments will ensure that every eligible four-year-old is able to attend full day pre-K in Howard County.

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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