The Conservative MP, who Theresa May sacked in her post-election reshuffle, defeated five other candidates to become head of the cross-party committee, which is charged with scrutinising the work of the Department for Education.
In his pre-election statement setting out what would be his priorities as committee chair, Halfon said he would focus on six areas: social justice throughout the education system; the funding of early years services; the new schools funding formula; the government's technical education reforms; university tuition fees; and strengthening careers advice.
"As a former education minister, I bring recent experience of the policy and challenges the committee will face in the year ahead," he said.
"But, to those who need reassurance, I am no establishment man. I will not be afraid to challenge ministers, leaders or the sector when needed."
The National Day Nurseries Association welcomed Halfon's appointment.
"We are encouraged that he has listed the implementation of 30 hours in a bullet-pointed list of matters for urgent focus in his acceptance statement," said Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association.
"With 30 hours at serious risk of failure due to low funding rates, and full rollout less than two months away, it's vital that the committee makes this a priority and looks at solutions that could make it deliverable."
On Twitter, Halfon's selection as chair has won praise from people in the further education sector.
Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive of Gateshead College, tweeted:
East London's New City College echoed the sentiment:
Former skills minister Nick Boles came second in the race to become chair, followed by ex-health minister Dr Dan Poulter. Former children's minister Tim Loughton came fourth in the ballot.
Halfon is the MP for Harlow and was first elected to Parliament in 2010.
The chairs of other select committees involved in scrutinising policies affecting children and young people policies have also been confirmed.
Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan will chair the treasury select committee.
Labour MP and former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been re-elected to chair the home affairs committee, while Conservative MP Bob Neill will chair the justice select committee.
Conservative MP Dr Sarah Wollaston will chair the health select committee and Labour MP Frank Field will chair the work and pensions select committee.
The communities and local government select committee will be chaired by Labour MP Clive Betts, and Conservative MP Damian Collins will chair the culture, media and sport committee.