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City Opening New Early Childhood Education Center On South Side

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Emanuel administration will be unveiling a new early childhood education center for the Englewood and Back of the Yards neighborhoods on Thursday.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the center — located in Englewood, and run by Metropolitan Family Services — is a first for that community in many ways.

There are home visits for new families, helping to train them to be better parents.

“We could have done more children, but we wanted to make sure that the children that were enrolled, that their parents were actually getting what they needed,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “Early childhood years, I’ve been a long advocate for, let alone that’s what I studied in college, and I am pleased that the city – unlike other cities around the country which are cutting back – we’re actually adding kids, and adding services for their parents.”

There’s also a family wellness center to provide health and nutrition advice, as well as sports and recreational activities.

Rashona Davis’ 3-year-old daughter is enrolled at the center. She said she welcomes the home visits, though she admitted she was skeptical at first.

“I was concerned about people coming to my house, but as I got to know them, different things about what they were doing for me as a parent, that’s what made me get involved with the program,” she said.

After she got to know the people at the center, and understood how they could assist her and her daughter, Davis felt they were helping her to become a better mother.

“That was a good thing that they were coming out, and helping us learn different things about our children, and how to be a better mother,” she said.

Emanuel said it’s important that the center also offer “wraparound” services, so that the gains that are made by children at the center are continued at home.

Davis said she and her daughter love the field trips to museums and the like. The Center also boasts cooking classes and job training.

The mayor said the $36 million investment for the center will come from revenue from speed cameras the administration plans to install in Chicago.

“I said the speed cameras were going to go for the safety of our children,” he said. “We’re adding after school, 30 percent increase, and we’re adding 5,000 children to our pre-K.”

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