New system will create higher standards so that all children start kindergarten ready to learn, and will provide parents with easy access to information about the best programs
Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced an overhaul of the City’s early childhood education programs, based on recommendations made by the Early Childhood Task Force, in an effort to serve the most at-risk children in high –quality programs and increase transparency and accountability of the City and individual programs.
“We must provide children in every neighborhood with the tools they need to excel in school and succeed in the workforce, and that includes providing excellent early childhood education,” said Mayor Emanuel at Educare Early Childhood Center in the city’s Grand Crossing neighborhood. “These reforms will help parents find opportunities for their children and better prepare our students for the rigors of elementary, middle and high school classrooms.”
The City is implementing several programs to position Chicago at the forefront of local and national Race to the Top efforts and will implement the following reforms:
* Unveil a Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) for all City-funded early childhood programs beginning July 1, 2012. The 5-star rating system will allow parents to assess all programs objectively while incentivizing quality and guidelines for improvement for early childhood educators. The rating system will be finalized by July 1, 2012, providing parents with guidelines for choosing programs for the children in the upcoming school year.
* Launch an Interactive Early Childhood Web Portal as a one-stop-shop to help parents find programs, assess program quality based on the QRIS star rating, understand their child’s eligibility for programs, and provide an interactive platform for parents to provide input regarding programs. The portal will be fully operational by July 2012, in time for parents to use as a resource for the next school year.
“We are thrilled that the City of Chicago is leading the way in producing high-quality education for all its children and that the Mayor agrees that we must invest in children’s learning beginning at birth,” said Diana Rauner, President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund. “These investments represent a crucial step toward helping more children achieve their full potential and strengthening our city’s future by producing a more educated workforce and a stronger economy.”
The Early Childhood Task Force includes members from city agencies, early learning advocacy groups, and direct service providers. The task force launched in July at the direction of Mayor Emanuel; throughout the summer the task force engaged over 60 early childhood experts across the city and state with the goal of transforming early childhood education in Chicago and positioning the City at the forefront of the State’s Early Learning Challenge Grant.
Mayor Emanuel also named the Executive Council members that will be charged with the coordination of the new initiatives moving forward. See them here.