Choosing a pre-school, daycare or Head Start program for a young child can be a confusing experience for parents, but Chicago hopes to make it easier with a new five-star rating system unveiled Wednesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is creating the first-ever evaluation system for city-funded early childhood programs to empower parents and position Chicago to capture funds made available through the local and national “Race to the Top” competition.
The five-star rating system will begin on July 1 of next year. An evaluation committee that’s an off-shoot of the Early Childhood Task Force created to advise then-Mayor elect Rahm Emanuel will work with Chicago Public Schools to conduct a yearly evaluation of each city-funded program.
Programs that achieve the highest rating will get the largest share of resources, the mayor said. Those that fall short will be asked to “model themselves after successful programs,” the mayor said.
An interactive early childhood portal on the city’s website will feature the ratings and provide a forum for parents seeking to exchange information about early childhood programs.
“What we have had to date is, you get certified and that was the last time we really cared. And it’s wrong,” the mayor told a news conference at the Educare Early Childhood Center, 5044 S. Wabash.
The mayor acknowledged that the challenge of getting kids ready to succeed in school “requires money.” But he argued that money alone won’t fix a “broken” and “helter-skelter” system that creates a “confusing” maze for parents.
“Just getting certified and doing a background check was good enough before. No. Where are you on the basics of teaching a child on learning, learning the alphabet, what the letters are, what the numbers are?” the mayor said.