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New Initiative To Provide More Pre-K Slots For Chicago Children

Libby Elementary School. (Credit: CBS)

Libby Elementary School. (Credit: CBS)

Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Trying to find convenient quality childcare is a priority for working parents, but for too long too many parents in communities like Englewood have had to leave the neighborhood.

This fall that changes when the City adds 5,000 new pre-k slots. Dorothy Tucker sits down with the Mayor and reports on what the City’s latest initiative means to communities like Englewood.

“I take like two buses and a train and then I walk,” said Jalissa Smith.

That’s a two hour trip to get Jalissa Smith’s three-year-old daughter from her Englewood home to a child care center on the West Side. She’s tried a couple of centers in the neighborhood, but wasn’t impressed.

“She didn’t really do anything. She just ran around and I would rather have her practice her name, abc’s or something,” said Smith.

A quality education conveniently located in Englewood is what Smith wants and that’s exactly what she’ll find at Libby Grade School. The annex building is under construction for a new child care center.

The center will be ready when school starts. It can accommodate more than a hundred students from infants to age five.

Libby is one of a hand full of new centers. Dozens more have been given additional funding increasing the number of children in early education programs from 39,000 to 44,000.

The new child care programs will be modeled after Metropolitan Family Services in Chicago Lawn. The Mayor likes the center’s strong educational curriculum for children and support for parents: GED classes, mental health services, counseling, parenting skills.

“For a lot of young mothers, not limited to young mothers, they’re not sure what it means to be a parents, even though now they’re a parent,” said Mayor Rahm, Emanuel. “We as City, Englewood as a community will pay a huge price for that and for me it’s more important teaching them how to be a parent.”

The centers are accepting applications for the fall. To find one with the city’s approval, visit www.chicagoearlylearning.org.